As anyone who reads my blog knows, I’m a pretty enthusiastic foodie-type, and along with the restaurant reviews, I love to do a lot of home cooking. At the start of October, I was invited along to a day at The Cook School Scotland , for their Market Kitchen day class. Based just outside of Kilmarnock, for me it meant an early start via Glasgow. Caffè latte in hand, I boarded the train at Central Station ready for the day’s culinary adventures.
The group of 10 or so aspiring chefs met in the communal (and may I say rather fancy) dining room for a nice cuppa and bacon roll, before the school’s Head Chef, Phil Lewis came in to introduce himself and his ‘sous’ for the day, Heather. The group of waiting cooks were a good mix of teens. ladies and gents, and everyone seemed raring to go. As pretty much each and every one of my day’s thoughts are centered around food, it was with welcome ears that we were talking about British seasonal and local ingredients, and the plans for the day’s recipes just after 10am!
After the appropriate safety briefing, and bit of info on the induction hobs (which I was well-excited to be spending a day in the company of) we moved through to the classroom for the first of the day’s demos. The format went along the lines of presentation and demonstration by Chef Phil, loads of great advice and info along the way, a chance for us to ask any questions, and then we were released to our work-stations to give the recipe a go.
Combining the best bits of school, an easy Sunday in the kitchen at home and being on MasterChef, the day really did fly in.
The best bits:
Spending a whole day cooking on induction hobs and not ‘feeling the heat’
Learning a bit of self-discipline when it comes to breaking the habit of unnecessarily and incessantly poking and stirring things in a pot on the hob. It’s ok if stuff sticks. You’ll gain flavour. Leave it alone!
Remembering how much I love beetroot. And venison. And cabbage.
Discovering how easy it is to make pannacotta and biscotti.
Finally nailing the technique of removing vanilla seeds from the pod – it’s all in the knife angle, folks!
En papillote rocks the roasted root veggies.
The bad bits:
Subjecting anyone within earshot for the next month to numerous ‘Cook School Phil said’ food-related anecdotes.
Being unable to find an online supplier who will deliver Maitre Andre puff pastry to my flat.
Going home and remembering I don’t have a state-of-the-art Miele kitchen, and wondering why I chickened out of going for induction hobs when installing our new kitchen last year.
Discovering I don’t have a ‘crew’ at home who magically take all of the dirty dishes away!
Ready for action!
I say, I’m making pannacotta!
Venison, thyme and red wine casserole
Beetroot on their puff pastry beds, ready to go in the oven.
Lunch – our very own Arran beetroot, Dunlop goat’s cheese tart
Chef’s foccacia and biscotti, cooling on the rack
Before we headed home, dinner time! Our venison stew, mash, cabbage with bacon and Arran mustard.
Oh. And a wee glass of vin rouge.
Dessert, our vanilla pannacotta, biscotti and some caramelised plums. Yums, more like.
Our bag to take home with left-over edibles, the folder with all the recipes, apron and pencil.
Not long after my visit The Cook School won a major 5star award for tourism in Ayshire, so congrats to all; it really is a fantastic facility. And only an hour or so from Edinburgh! My buddy Briony from the Glasgow Food Blog recently had a day at the Game Kitchen, and you can read about her adventures here.
The Cook School is located at
7 Moorfield North Industrial Park,
Tel: (01563) 550008
Thanks to Jim at Taste Communications for organising the visit, to MD of Braehead foods Craig Stevenson for picking me up from the train station, to Phil and Heather for an excellent day,and last but not least Gillian who kindly offered me a lift back to Edinburgh at the end of the day.