Whether you’re hoping to become a professional cook, you want to know the difference between a brunoise and a chiffonade, or you’d simply like to add a new dish to your repertoire, there is a cookery school in the UK ready to meet your needs.
Whilst there are dedicated schools like Le Cordon Bleu and Ashburton Chefs Academy aimed more at budding professionals keen to master classical technique, for those keen for something a little more informal, Britain is blessed with several cookery schools fronted by celebrity chefs.
Here, the vibe is convivial, the teaching attentive, and the results at the end of the day delicious. With that in mind, here are 5 of the best celebrity chef cookery schools in the UK.
Rick Stein Cookery School, Padstow, Cornwall
Visit the gorgeous fishing town of Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast and you’ll notice the influence of celebrated fish chef and TV personality Rick Stein everywhere.
The chef owns no less than four restaurants in Padstow – The Seafood Restaurant, more than 40 years old, St Petroc’s Bistro, Rick Stein’s Café and Stein’s Fish and Chips – which, considering the size of the town at just over 10’000, makes Stein a pretty influential figure.
And yes, we’ve heard the one about ‘Padstein’, too.
Anyway, another part of the TV chef’s empire is the Rick Stein Cookery School, which has been open for more than 20 years on Padstow’s quay, boasting sea views and teaching keen homecooks about the art of seafood cookery.
The courses are a globetrotting affair, with many themed around Stein’s TV adventures; so, that’s a half-day course on his ‘Road to Mexico’ or a day of ‘Far Eastern Cookery’, if you’d like. You could also attend a single dish evening course, learning to make pad Thai with prawns or Indonesian seafood curry, for instance. Prices for those start at £45, with full days costing £198. Sign us up!
The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Great Milton, Oxfordshire+
The iconic, amiable two Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc’s cookery school is housed in the same grounds as his acclaimed restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, with access to the famous kitchen garden that feeds the restaurant.
These esteemed surroundings lead to courses that are driven by, in the chef’s words, ‘’ethical, environmental and seasonal values’’. Though chef Blanc isn’t always at the helm of the cookery school, his ethos of nurturing and mentorship is apparent in the detailed courses on offer here.
At Raymond Blanc Cookery School, you’ll be in the hands of head tutor Mark Peregrine, a talented chef with over 30 years’ experience. Courses are generally a full day (though longer courses with accommodation are offered) and cover a single discipline in commendable detail. Coming up in August are sessions on stocks and sauces, patisserie, BBQ and so much more. These daily sessions are priced at £385.
Interestingly, if you’re after something more immersive and intensive, run by the great man himself, then this month Raymond Blanc is hosting an ‘experience with Raymond Blanc‘ at the Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Scottish Highlands. On this exclusive four day trip running from 25th to 28th August, the chef shares his knowledge and passions through a series of cooking demonstrations using the finest produce that the Highlands offers.
Considering Blanc is a master of hyperseasonal, hyperlocal cooking, and the Scottish Highlands boasts some of the most revered ingredients on the planet (oh, the beef), this is a masterchef experience you don’t want to miss.
Gordon Ramsay Academy, Woking, Surrey
Yep, we know what you’re thinking; pay £100 for a three hour session of being shouted at by the most sweary man on TV? No thanks!
Rest assured; that’s not how the Gordon Ramsay Academy does things. Instead, courses curated by the man himself are focused yet informal, precise and professional, and cover a vast range of topics and disciplines.
So, it’s aprons on and knife rolls at the ready; most classes either run in the morning or afternoon, with attendees able to tuck into their creations for lunch or dinner after they’re done cooking. Coming up in August is a Beef Wellington Masterclass (one of Ramsay’s signature dishes), a session on the Taste of Spain, a pad Thai in 90 minutes, and an afternoon of vegan recipes, to name but a few.
School Of Wok With Jeremy Pang, London
In Stein and Ramsay’s cookery schools, you’ll find pad Thai being taught, sure, but if you’re looking for a deeper dive into the food of East and Southeast Asia, then it’s to the School Of Wok you should head.
Regular viewers of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and ITV’s This Morning will be familiar with the instructive, enthusiastic teachings of chef Jeremy Pang on all things wok related. Well, you don’t have to fire up the freeview to get the chef’s guidance; he also runs a dedicated space in central London, which is Europe’s only award winning Asian and Oriental cookery school.
The mantra here is ‘learn, laugh, eat’, and that’s exactly what you’ll get here, alongside a morning or afternoon class for £99 (full days are also sometimes on offer for £165) that focuses on a particular cuisine or dish. Coming up this month is an introduction to dim sum, a session on Thai street food, and a look at Chinese takeaway classics. Be warned; courses at School of Wok sell out months in advance, so you better be quick if you’re keen to master your East and Southeast Asian food tekkers.
Prue Leith’s School Of Food & Wine, London
Though Prue Leith’s School Of Food and Wine (or, simply, Leiths) is a more professionally focused affair, helping aspiring chefs hone their craft, the school does also host day sessions for the layperson to learn some new skills.
Open since 1975 under the guidance of South African chef and now Bake Off judge Prue Leith, if it’s celebrity chefs you’re after, then Leith’s guest chef cooking classes, usually running from 10am to 2:30pm and costing around £165, will see you right.
This year, a pizza making class from Pizza Pilgrims, a taste of India session with chef Atul Kochhar, and a look at authentic Thai cookery with Som Saa’s Andy Oliver are just a few of the appealing classes on offer. Book early to avoid disappointment!
And once you’ve honed those skills, you might want to consider these chef’s workflow hacks to make cooking at home easier.