Cookery Class News

Surely tea is for the teapot, not the stew pot?

Cynthia Gold, former sommelier at Park Plaza, is to take charge in a similar role at L’Espalier in order to emphasise its own fantastic tea menu. In a recent e-mail interview, Gold spared some time for Eater to share her envisaged role and give us a sneak preview into how they’re going to develop their own house blends and expand dishes and cocktails all in a cookery masterclass with the star ingredient: tea!

The first task for the purpose of this article is to perhaps introduce the idea of cooking with tea to an English audience. And we’re not just talking different ways of serving it in the afternoon, such as do we put the milk in first or second? or do we favour a shortbread or Garibaldi first? We’re talking proper alcoholic cocktails and real food with tea as a solid ingredient, either as the base or infused at some point during this most refreshing of cookery classes.

There is a popular school of thought that cooking with tea can overpower other ingredients that going into making the meal itself. Like any recipe that is deemed a success, it is all about getting the correct balance of ingredients. Tea is no different, especially when it comes to forming the base of an alcoholic beverage. Weird? Well not when you think about how popular Pernod and Ouzo are, and they have aniseed at their bases, so perhaps we could all learn something about a cookery class that teaches us about brewing up bevvy that incorporates an ingredient that is so very English.

To understand a little bit more about how one learns to infuse tea to make varieties of sangria, salt-rimmed shots where the crystalline edge has been smoked in tea or for your homebrew bitter, it is perhaps worth knowing what exactly a sommelier is and how one gets to become one.

The original masters in the art of the tea sommelier are relatively new, when you consider how long the stuff has actually been drank by the gallon as part of the afternoon tiffing regime of the old Empire Britannia. Gold was the only chef amongst the original set and so it seemed a very natural progression for her to learn to cook tea in different ways.

She sees two things in the leaves about her future. Firstly, at L’Espalier, a subsidiary menu of rare teas will accompany the existing menu which draws upon their estate teas in a combination of both savoury and sweet dishes from their kitchens. In the background, Cynthia is putting her head together with Canadian, British and French ambasadors for the industry to produce a multi-national certificate in recognition of the art of becoming an accomplished tea chef and the necessary background studies to achieve this standardisation.

Mmm, it may take the UK public some convincing to take tea with anything other than milk or sugar – we’ve never really taken to popping lemon into it, so Tea-kka Masala? You’ve got your work cut out, Cynthia.

Cookery Courses News

Cookery courses, from the ground up

Cooking has never been more popular than it is today. With television channels dedicated to the art, documentaries attracting millions of viewers and celebrities from all walks of stardom looking to exhibit their culinary expertise to willing audiences, pots and pans have moved from their spiritual home in the kitchen to up front and central in our living rooms. With our newfound love for doing something amazing with food rather than just blitz a frozen ready meal at 850 watts, cookery courses are attracting people from all walks of life.

From children to dads to grandparents (and mums as well, don’t forget), there seems to be an entry level (and certificate) for whatever plane your cookery skills operate on into the fast-growing industry, from foundation upwards. Instead of being just something you ate while you talked about your day at work or school, conversations around the dinner tables of the UK are turning to food itself as the prime source of discussion.

With the influence of top chefs like Jamie Oliver impacting our very government to change the way children think (and have access to) healthy, nutritional food, what we eat no longer simply exists in the domain of the adults, but it is a medium to bring whole families together, swapping tips, hints and learning from each other, as they go.

cookery courses for every skill level, every passion

There is only so much you can learn en masse. If you are serious about food, either delivering the best to your family, brushing up a technique to entertain the love of your life (or their family) or are so enamoured with cooking that you’re looking to take it seriously, there will be a cookery course out there for you.

Whether you are looking for a cookery class that shows you how to use a wooden spoon or a full-blown course that explains in depth how to cook a five-course meal for (family) royalty, there will be an entry level designed to accommodate you. There are many free courses at local community halls or schools, but to deliver the broadest knowledge of one of the fastest growing industries on the planet, choosing a professional course with a recognised qualification and certification is the way forward.

The topic of cooking is so broad that we couldn’t possibly cover it all in one article, here on What we hope to achieve, over the coming weeks, months and years is a comprehensive guide to the best cookery courses available either on the web (there are some excellent remote learning courses) or in situ, at some of the highest quality, nationally recognised cookery schools in the UK.

This will be an amazing journey for us – we hope you enjoy the experience (and sticky wooden spoons) as much as we do, as we have fun with food into 2012 and beyond.