Cookery School News

French cookery school explores Scotland

Continental diners may soon be enjoying the taste of Scotland after the French cookery school, Lycée Hôtelier in Dinard, sent nine cookery students to explore the country and learn more about its chefs, products and producers.

The joint project was developed in association with Frédéric Berkmiller and his two Edinburgh based restaurants, L’Escargot Bleu and L’Escargot Blanc.

During their stay, the students travelled the breadth of Scotland meeting wholesale fishmongers, vegetable producers and cattle farmers, and visiting their premises.

They also had the chance to learn about the rich variety of Scottish produce, from fish and meat to dairy and vegetables.

The students also visited the kitchens of L’Escargot Blanc and L’Escargot. There was also the opportunity to visit Michelin-Star chef Tom Kitchin and discuss his passion for fresh produce and his saying: “From nature to plate”.

Mr Berkmiller believes that both Scotland and France have rich larders that are very similar and as a result it is the duty of chefs and restaurant to share knowledge and experience with youngsters wherever they may come from.

During their visit some of the trainee chefs were left in charge of the kitchens at L’Escargot Blanc and L’Escargot Bleu. The remaining members of the French team visited the Institut Français d’Ecosse in Edinburgh, to participate in a special Tastes of Brittany and Meet the Chefs afternoon of sweet and savoury crepes tasting.

The exchange project was arranged as part of a year of cultural exchange between Scotland and Brittany that was conceived by the Institut Francais d’Ecosse.

The project is built on partnership with cultural organisations in both countries and aims to strengthen the existing links to support and develop artistic creation in addition to promoting it at an international and national level.

The Lycée Hotelier cookery school will be hosting the return leg in October. This will be an opportunity for a number of Scottish cookery students to explore the gastronomic joys of Brittany.

Cookery Courses News

Viva La Espana! Spanish cookery courses are on the up

With its focus on fresh ingredients and amazing regional flavours, Spanish cuisine is becoming extremely popular.

Spain’s extensive cultural history has led to a vast array of distinctive cuisines with thousands of recipes and flavours. It is strongly influenced by seafood which is available in the waters that surround the country.

The popularity of Spanish cuisine has resulted in an increase in demand for Spanish cookery courses here in the UK. There are a variety of different providers but, in our view, the following are amongst the best.

Cornwall, Padstow Seafood School

Founded by celebrity chef Rick Stein, everyone that attends the school leaves with a real sense of why seafood is so special as well as the hands on skills to transform fresh fish into a fantastic culinary treat.

To coincide with the launch of Rick Stein’s Spain, the cookery school has introduced a new series of Spanish cooking courses that will teach you the essentials of Spanish fish cookery. There are both one-day and two-day courses.

The one-day course features a variety of difference seafood dishes from Spain. Each day includes a mixture of hands-on, practical cookery and demonstrations from the experts. A sociable lunch is also included where students can enjoy the dishes that they’ve created.

The two-day course is full of simple cooking techniques for fresh seafood but also features the strong flavours of saffron, smoked paprika, olive oil and garlic. Recipes include dishes such as scallops baked with guindilla, cuttlefish with peas and meatballs and Malaga style fried fish. There is also the opportunity to explore some fantastic Spanish desserts.

London, Food at 52

Food at 52 offers practical tuition in a well equipped and atmospheric kitchen in Clerkenwell, central London. Whether you a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice you’ll really enjoy your time at Food at 52. Classes are small with no more than ten students and each session ends with the chance to enjoy the fantastic dishes that have been created.

The Spanish cookery course will give students the practical tools to create a number of different dishes. Students will learn how to make perfect paella rice, stocks, soffritto and a mixture of different Tapas dishes from octopus in red wine stew to stuffed dates with chorizo.

As with all cooking courses at Food at 52, students will be expected to roll up their sleeves from the start. You will learn to master new skills and will be encouraged to experiment in the kitchen.

Cookery School News

Sustainable fish competition launched by renowned chef

Top restaurateur, cookery school proprieter and world renowned chef, Raymond Blanc has launched a new contest to identify the most innovative and forward-thinking user of sustainable fish.

The competition is aimed at restaurants or caterers and is the result of a partnership between Raymond, the City of London Corporation, the Sustainable Fish City project, Sea Web Seafood Choices and the Fishmongers Company.

Raymond is the owner and chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons restaurant in Oxfordshire. He was born in France and like many of his compatriots he is a huge fan of seafood and fish. As a result, they feature in many of his dishes and he is a keen supporter of the recent sustainability campaign.

During the launch of the competition Raymond expressed his belief that good ethics ought to be fundamental to all businesses. He believes that the competition will give caterers and restaurateurs the chance to demonstrate what they are doing to help protect the nation’s marine resources.

Entrants will be expected to demonstrate a real passion for sustainable fish and have clear rules about what they will serve. It is hoped that as well as receiving their rightful recognition the successful entrants will also help to inspire others.

London based Indian restaurant Cafe Spice Namaste won the award last year. Head chef and owner Cyrus Todiwala also won the award for Leadership in Sustainability. Cyrus explained that he was delighted to win last year not least because the awards helped to highlight the beliefs which underpin his business.

Cyrus is pleased that the focus this year will be on fish. He believes that by using sustainable seafood, restaurants will be doing their bit in helping to prevent over fishing in our seas.

The campaign for sustainable fish won a notable victory recently, to read more please click here.


Shocking amount of world food supply is lost or wasted

Over thirty per cent of the food that is produced globally for human consumption is either lost or wasted according to shocking new figures produced by the United Nations. The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated that this equates to roughly 1.3 billion tonnes every year.

Forty percent of food losses in the developing world happen after harvest, whilst being transported or stored, and during packing and processing. In developed countries, forty per cent of losses happen as a consequence of consumers and retailers disposing of unwanted but frequently entirely edible food.

Given that we live in an age where over a billion people are in a constant state of hunger and the water, energy and land resources needed to feed the worldwide population of seven billion are ever more limited, it is clear that food losses on this scale are a huge waste and represent a failure in our food system.

Each year developing countries lose over 150 million tonnes of grains. This is 6 times the volume required to address the hunger issue in the developing world. Meanwhile countries in the developed world waste over 220 million tonnes of food each year. The food industries in these counties have many tools on hand to reduce the likelihood of food spoiling. These include preservation and pasteurisation facilities, climate controlled storage, drying equipment, chemicals which extend shelf life and transport infrastructure.

The following have all be cited as examples of our negligent attitude towards food; throwing away less popular specifies of fish at sea, discarding farm produce that is cosmetically imperfect, and cooking or purchasing more food than is required in the home.

A spokesman for the Worldwatch Institute explained that the global economy is already seeing sharp increases in food prices as well as the early effects of climatic change on food production and, as a result, we shouldn’t ignore these obvious, lost cost methods of reducing food waste.

Cookery School News

Bristol cookery school teacher offers basic cooking tips

The founder of The Devilled Egg cookery school, Barbora Stiess believes that most people want to improve the range and level of their cooking abilities. This desire can be due to a real passion for food or simply because it makes economic sense to cook meals from scratch.

Barbora believes that whilst anybody can cook, many people wrongly assume that they don’t have the necessary skills or time to pursue it. She feels that anybody who really wants to learn can pick up the basics very quickly and create meals that far exceed their expectations.

During her time at The Devilled Egg, she has experienced this phenomenon numerous times. Whilst the customers taking the cookery courses may vary in their experience and cooking ability, their delight and surprise at what they are able to create is universal.

As if to demonstrate how simple cooking can be Barbora has provided the following basic tips,

Fish skin – the key to avoiding flabby fish skin is to rub it with salt and fry it in an extremely hot pan.

– Poached eggs – to ensure that the egg holds its shape the trick is to add a small amount of vinegar to the simmering water.

– Foams and Purees – these are very popular at the moment and are really simple to make – just infuse your chosen flavour with milk and add sufficient butter to assist with the foaming.

Barbora believes that cookery courses can really help to supplement cookbooks, which, for all the wonderful recipes they provide, rarely go further than basic instructions and provide no advice on the best way to react when things don’t go to plan.

The Devilled Egg cookery schools provides a range of cooking courses from it base in Clifton, Bristol.

Cookery School Cooking Courses News

Celebrity Chef Earns Victory In His Ethical Fishing Crusade

In the most significant reform of the fishing industry for almost forty years, fisherman will be prohibited from throwing dead fish back into the sea.

Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, announced in July last year that the controversial practice which results in millions of tonnes of perfectly edible fish being wasted each year due to quota rules – will be phased out.

The announcement has been seen as a victory for celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who’s much talked about ‘Fish Fight’ crusade, which called for more ethical fishing, attracted more than 700,000 supporters and forced the matter in to the public eye.

Fearnley-Whittingstall explained that the current method is bankrupt, a fact that is demonstrated by the mandatory discarding of four million tonnes of fish each year. His campaign attracted many celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Richard Branson.

The EU Commission has assured fisherman that the new rules will mean that they can once again enjoy a ‘decent living’, explaining that the planned reform of the quota policy would return fish stocks to sustainable levels within four years.

Damanaki claimed that we need to act now to ensure that all of our fish stocks return to a sustainable level for both existing and future generations. Fisherman should continue to fish and be rewarded with decent earnings, but only under this important precondition.

Under the current system fisherman can throw back as much as eighty per cent of their entire catch either because of the quota rules or because the fish isn’t the right size. If the new system is adopted then fisherman will be required to land their catch in full.

Member of the European Parliament will have twelve months to consider the proposals before they are adopted as law in the new year.

Fearnley-Whittingstall is probably best known for the River Cottage television series which focused on his attempts to become a self sufficient smallholder in rural Dorset.

He is divides his time between a number of different projects including television, journalism and real food campaigning. He also owns the River Cottage Cookery School at Park Farm which provides cookery courses with an emphasis on simple dishes and seasonal ingredients.