Cook up a storm with acclaimed chef Robin Stewart
Rating: ★★★★ ★(5/5)
Courses start from: £51
Despite being the cookery editor at Yours, I’ve never been on a cookery course I’m certainly no expert chef but do like to cook new dishes, experiment with flavors and make pretty sweet bakes. So, doing a cooking course appealed to me as I wanted to improve my skills and learn a few different dishes and techniques that I could use in my kitchen at home.
The Rutland Cookery School, just outside Oakham, was the ideal setting for this. It’s housed in a functional, but welcoming, wheelchair-friendly, building. There is a large island in the centre of the room that can host up to 9 students. Each learner has a generous work area, comprising of a cupboard full of utensils, pots and pans and use of a hob and oven. There’s also the handy addition of a TV screen directly above the chef that live streams his workstation so wherever you are in the room you’re able to see what’s happening.
I attended a one-day French Classics course, held from 10am till 4pm. We had a total of 5 students in our group. This was a great number as it meant we all had the opportunity to ask questions and, when needed, seek assistance (and reassurance) from Robin.
It was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere- due to both the group and Robin himself. It wasn’t at all intimidating and even those with limited cooking skills were able to follow the recipes. Saying that, the recipes weren’t basic. We made a blanquette of lamb, a créme caramel, pork rillette, and a chicken, walnut and Roquefort quenelle. As a group we also made (and tasted) a classic hollandaise sauce and poached eggs bourguignon.
Throughout the day Robin would suggest alternative ingredients we could use to make the dishes- if they weren’t to people’s taste or if you didn’t have any of the ingredients to hand. He also shared a number of useful storage tips and ways to use up all leftovers, so nothing is wasted. As an acclaimed chef he was able to relay many fascinating stories from his former days working in the Michelin-starred kitchens of the Connaught, Dorchester and Gleneagles.
I was pleasantly surprised with how well all my dishes turned out. We tucked into our lamb at lunchtime and washed it down with a glass of wine followed by our créme caramel. The remaining fruits of our labour were packed up for us to take home.
I throughly enjoyed my day at Rutland Cooking School. I cooked dishes I would never have dared attempt at home. It gave me a real confidence boost and has encouraged me to be more experimental with my own cooking. You don’t have to be semi-pro chef to cook any of the dishes, it’s a great atmosphere and you’ll come away with a whole host of useful tips and skills. It’s also exceptionally good value for money, compared to other cookery courses. If you can’t commit to a whole day, half day and evening courses are also available. After mastering a few French classics I’ve just signed up to do the patisserie course and can’t wait to see what delicious treats we'll be making!
For more information visit: www.rutlandcookeryschool.co.uk