Top cooking schools

Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford Raymond Blanc’s famous Cookery School, in the magnificent grounds of his 13th-century manor house hotel and restaurant, is now in its 10th year. Former pupils include Max Beasley, Kylie Minogue, Lenny Henry and Laura Bailey. Tutors There are four dedicated chefs Classes For novices to experienced enthusiasts Cost From £295. Adult-and-child courses  from £495 (£695 per pair when class is taught by Raymond Blanc) Wow factor It’s the only cookery school in the world to offer the chance to learn in the kitchens of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant 01844 278881;

Ballymaloe Cookery School, Co Cork, Ireland Darina Allen’s
highly-regarded cookery school has its own 100-acre organic farm, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Graduates include her television chef daughter-in-law Rachel Allen, Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, and food writer and broadcaster Clodagh McKenn. Tutors Darina Allen, her brother Rory O’Connell and Rachel Allen take most of the demonstrations. All of the other teachers have been trained in the school Classes Include ‘How to keep a few chickens in the garden’ and ‘Kids in the kitchen’ Cost From €105 to €9,395 Wow factor The organic farm. ‘Students on the 12-week course start by learning how to sow a seed and spend time on the farm seeing how things are grown,’ explains Mrs Allen 00 353 21 4646785;

Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales Set up by chef and
television presenter Angela Gray in October 2007, it has been hailed by foodies as one of Wales’ best cookery schools. Tutors Mrs Gray takes the majority of classes. Masterclasses have a maximum of six students Classes For enthusiastic beginners. Include seafood masterclasses and seasonal baking Cost From £47 to £117 Wow factor Its location. ‘As well as its award-winning vineyard, the school has its own substantial kitchen garden and a large network of local food producers,’ says Mrs Gray 01443 225877;

Brook Hall Cookery School, Buckinghamshire Stephen Bulmer, former director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School, is renowned for his entertaining classes. ‘He’s very enthusiastic,’ says his wife, Joanna. ‘Students find themselves beating eggs in time to the William Tell overture.’ Tutors Mr Bulmer Classes Aimed at enthusiastic amateurs and seasoned Aga cooks Cost From £65 to £245 Wow factor Set in the Bulmers’ Grade II-listed Queen Anne family home, the atmosphere is relaxed. ‘We invite partners to come and enjoy the pool during our barbecue classes,’ says Mr Bulmer. Aga queen Mary Berry is a fan 01296 712111;

Cook School by Martin Wishart, Edinburgh A lot of thought has gone into Martin Wishart’s new school. ‘Everyone has their own hob, and we use equipment that can be found in most high-street stores, so students can work with the same utensils at home,’ says Mr Wishart. Tutors Mr Wishart and chefs from his nearby Michelin-starred restaurant Classes Geared towards cooking enthusiasts. There is a maximum of eight students per class, plus courses for children (aged 11–15) Cost From £25 to £250 Wow factor The sleek, modern kitchens 0131–555 6655;

Newlyns Cookery School, Hampshire Set on a 500-acre traditional mixed farm, the school (which opened in March, with a farm-shop business), has a field-to-plate feel. Tutors Four dedicated chefs Classes For enthusiastic amateurs. Day courses, demonstrations, children’s classes (8–12 year olds and teenagers) and even singles’ evenings Cost From £39 for children’s classes to £110  for hands-on day classes Wow factor All the food used is seasonal and comes from the farm shop or local suppliers 01256 704128;

Bordeaux Quay Cookery School, Bristol Prue Leith is a great advocate of Bordeaux Quay: ‘The school is terrific,’ she says. ‘It’s sustainably run and uses local, organic ingredients.’ Tutor All six tutors have completed various courses at Leith’s or Ballymaloe, or have worked in restaurants as chefs Classes Workshops include ‘How to cook with confidence’ and meat masterclasses with Bordeaux Quay’s founder Barny Haughton Cost From £70 to £1,800. Children’s classes range from £18 to £285 Wow factor It’s not run for profit. Profits from regular classes are used to fund school and community-group teaching 01179 065550;

Lucy Young , a cordon-bleu-trained chef who has worked with Mary Berry, is one of only  a few chefs to give private demonstrations in your home. Although it’s essential the host has an Aga, it’s not a prerequisite for additional guests, as everyone is provided with conventional oven temperatures and timings. Tutor Lucy Young Classes ‘I do demonstrations for groups of 12–15 people, usually all friends,’ explains Miss Young. ‘Everything I cook, the group has for lunch’ Cost £60 per head (including food). Lucy’s travel is extra Wow factor Having Lucy Young host  a party in your home

Leith’s School of Food and Wine, London New managing director Camilla Schneiderman (she took over from Caroline Waldegrave, who established the school with Prue Leith in 1975) believes it’s Leith’s unique teaching techniques and facilities that set it apart. In January, the school moved to Chiswick, where, says Mrs Schneiderman, ‘we have fab new kitchens’. Tutors Approximately 25. Some run their own businesses and others have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants Classes Caters for children (aged 13–17),  amateurs many a chalet girl’s career began here and professionals Cost From £58 to £16,500 Wow factor Its unique year-long Diploma in Food and Wine, which qualifies students to be professional chefs, according to Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens 020–8749 6400;

Padstow Seafood Cookery School, Cornwall Founded in 2000 by top
seafood chef Rick Stein, Padstow is one of very few cookery schools dedicated to fish. Tutors A head lecturer and a team of three chefs. All have worked closely with Rick Stein. Sadly, Mr Stein does not take classes Classes These include fish and shellfish cookery and Italian/Thai/Asian/French fish courses. There’s a maximum of 16 students per class Cost From £180 to £2,250. Children’s classes in the school holidays are £70 Wow factor Some courses (one-day fish market and residential courses) include tours of local Newlyn fish market 01841532700;


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