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Cookery Courses News

Out with the lentils – vegetarian cookery schools go gourmet

There are some immense resources online for vegetarians, these days; hardly surprising when almost two million Brits consider themselves to be ‘strictly vegetarian‘. But the ideology behind going meat-free is so out-dated for us carnivorous dinosaurs that we really are in the dark ages when it comes to our own conception of what makes up a vegetarian diet. Personally, I blame Neil the Hippy and his constant badgering of Rik, Mike and Viv to eat lentils – I surmise that for anyone whose life has begun again, we’re in the same boat.

And that is really the crux of this week’s National Vegetarian Week – not only trying to change our appreciation of a meat-free diet but also teaching vegetarians that the carnivores are not the enemy. As such, we look today at the strides made by the myriad vegetarian enterprises, as well as those on our own cookery courses page, making a difference online today, starting with an offline event (hey-ho): VegFest running, Friday 25th-Sunday 27th May inclusive.

If you’re able to get along to Bristol this weekend, the culmination of this week’s proceedings concludes at the tenth annual VegFest in a program that not only exhibits live cookery classes and demonstrations but also has three comedians (Andrew O’Neill Friday, Sarah Pascoe Saturday and Chris Stokes on Sunday) to remind us that there is a lighter side to vegetarianism and it’s not all about hangovers from the Summer of Love and proclamations that if we don’t stop eating meat, the world will come to an end, despite what Einstein predicted that survival on Earth will be directly benefited by the evolution of vegetarianism. Another good reason to go is that it’s free to the general public, opening Friday at 2pm, then 11am on the weekend days, concluding in all cases at 11pm.

If that’s not enough for you, or you can’t get along, let’s get one thing totally clear: the vegetarian diet is no longer a bowl of lentil soup with a few herbs dashed in; it has gone Gourmet. The Cordon Vert Cookery School, for one, has taken the art of sourcing and preparing ingredients and even developing their own stock of vegetarian chefs through in-house cookery courses, to new levels. Indeed, as National Vegetarian Week builds up to its climax, they have announced the winner of their Chef of the Future award, which we’ll run through in more detail, tomorrow.

There are plenty of other fine dining experiences to be had sans la viande up and down the country, but the real jewel in the UK vegetarian crown is Edinburgh, at least according to Alex Bourke, author of such tomes as Vegetarian Scotland and other travel-related ventures for veggies.

Vegetarian dining is well catered for in the Scottish capital; it even has its own meat-free bed and breakfast, Claymore Vegetarian Guesthouse, based in the heart of the city, just a hop skip and a jump from Princes Street. You can also find up to thirteen bespoke vegetarian restaurants and cafés, all of which sit nicely in and around Edinburgh’s many historical attractions and plentiful pubs and bars (well, it is Scotland).

So join me tomorrow when we take a look at what really is en-vogue veggie as we review the three-course recipe that carried off Cordon Vert Cookery School’s Chef of the Future title and all of the trimmings and prestige that the award entitles the winning chef to.

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Cookery Courses News

Locally-sourced and foraged ingredients for your veggie bbq

No need to remind everyone that this week is Vegetarian Week, if you’ve been following the cookery courses blog, but for those who’ve just ambled across the site: it’s National Vegetarian Week! As such, we’ll be devoting the articles and advising of cookery schools that specialise in meat- (and fish-)free dishes.

In the UK alone, the Big Veggie Survey found that 3.8 million class themselves as ‘mainly’ vegetarian, the concession being that, to get a little flesh inside them (ooh, err!), they are not opposed to eating our water-dwelling friends. Half as many again, however, consider themselves ‘strictly vegetarian’, i.e. they eat no meat whatsoever, rather derive protein from soy and nuts and their iron and other vitamins and minerals from the common-or-garden vegetable.

This is a plight that can cause problems eating out, as we looked at earlier this week, as many restaurateurs and other eating establishments consider they’ve done their bit for the hoards of vegetarians wishing to eat socially by slapping a bit of cod or haddock on the menu. Uh-uh – catering sector, in the spirit of Eurovison, you score nil pwon. Yes, I know it’s spelt ‘points’, but it sort of loses the effect, innit?

How to serve vegetarian meals at home

Given that almost 2M strict veggies in the UK equates to one in thirty people, there’s a real good chance that, when throwing a dinner party or barbecue – yes, we have the weather for that at last! – at least one of the guests will be vegetarian or even vegan. What you don’t want to do is make the same mistake as the catering trade, rather, get the lowdown on what vegetarian cookery courses offer as part of their curriculum.

You really can’t go wrong by taking time out to pop along to one of the many UK cookery courses that have had a program designed by and for vegetarians. It’s a competitive business and reputation is everything in the industry; cookery courses are a growing market as UK citizens become more aware of the fact that ready meals off the shelf contain little in the way of nutrients and prefer to cook their meals from scratch.

The industry has recognised this and locally-sourced produce is one of the aspects that feature heavily in the modern day cookery class. And you can’t get more naturally cultured or foraged than UK vegetables or fruits and berries that can be plucked from many a winding country lane, a phenomenon that the UK is renowned for. What’s more, foraged ingredients are usually free, so what better excuse do you need to learn to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your dinner party spread?

So, over the remainder of the week, we’ll be taking a peep into what some of the most prolific chefs in the industry have to offer in the way of not only preparing a vegetarian feast, but also is rich in nutrients and is surprisingly cost-effective to prepare, as long as one has the know-how. If you can’t wait, our choice of the best cookery courses have plenty to offer in meat-free cookery classes, so why not take a gander, now, whilst we still have the weather to get the Grilletto out and make hay while the sun shines, as they say?

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Cookery Courses News

Get out your greens – it’s National Vegetarian Week

Calling all vegetarians – if you’re unaware, next week is National Vegetarian Week. Everyone thinks that, just because you’ve chosen a meat-free lifestyle, you’re bound to have signed up to all of the websites in the world about going Vegan, attend vegetarian cookery courses and sail out to save the whale with Greenpeace at the weekend. For the carnivorous types, the thought of going without a bit of red-blooded protein every day beggars belief.

It would be easy to sway towards the demand and use this week to press home the issue – ‘herbivores are right, omnivores are wrong’. But next week is choosing a different path. In a recent article, Monica Shaw caught up with two renowned vegetarian chefs who are not only providing eateries and cookery schools for meat-free diners but are also now accepting the fact that omnivores are not the enemy and just want to learn to cook vegetables that actually taste nice to go with their main course.

First of all, the Great British Chefs blogger caught up with Rachel Demuth, owner of the restaurant of the same name and ‘The Vegetarian Cookery School’. With the emphasis on time, the school has seen one of its cookery classes, ‘Fast and Delicious’, sell out time and again.

If you look inside anyone’s freezer, there is usually the odd bag of greens; beans, peas and even sprouts. But Rachel’s cookery class extols the virtue that everyone should have at least enough fresh vegetables in their pantry to be able to serve at least the minimum of fresh vegetables with every meal to add taste and nutrition alongside your canned and frozen vegetables.

Even if these are simply your staple vegetables – no need to go on a mad shopping hunt to try to find the exotic and expensive – Rachel’s recommendation is the simple frittata – simple, basic and suited to almost every veg you can name just to fry off in the basic egg mix.

Banging a similar drum is Mildred’s Vegetarian Restaurant head chef, Daniel Acevedo. Again, Daniel sees a fridge full of fresh veg as an absolute necessity. Although his interest is predominantly in the restaurant, he suggests that anyone looking to get their 5-a-day in every day (and not have to hold a victory parade on the day they achieve the feat once a month) always has the option of a simple salad or soup if there are fresh vegetables to hand.

There are plenty of planned events across the UK to run in conjunction with the Veg-fest, which officially gets under way Monday May 21st. If you’re looking to improve your vegetarian cookery prowess, there are plenty of choices on our cookery courses page that incorporate this niche, as well as a whole bulletin of other information to mark the event expected to go through the search engine pages.

No doubt I’ll meat meet you there.