A friend of mine regularly attends the different courses at Waitrose Cookery School in London and has always regaled tales of the wonderful things she has cooked and experienced. Her story of the Spanish themed event springs to mind where she enjoyed the fruits of her labour with copious amounts of red wine and sangria. Tempting for anyone I say.
|Waitrose Cookery School Reception Area|
So when I was invited by Waitrose to try a course at the Waitrose Cookery School, I needed no persuasion to attend!
I was able to choose from the wide programme of events organised for the year and I opted for The Art of Michelin Cooking as I knew that would be completely different to anything I have experienced before and therefore a prime opportunity to explore this particular culinary arena.
Conveniently situated just by Finchley Road tube station, the school is only a 15 minute tube train ride from central London.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed with a choice of beverages, granola mixes and pastries which acted as breakfast and was gratefully received after a long train journey! The waiting area was bright and airy with shelves adorned with various cook books from celebrity chefs.
The class started with an overview of the day before we were invited into the lecture theatre to commence our course. We were each given a folder with the recipes for the day and a section to make notes in which was really useful not only whilst we were there but also afterwards at home to have a reflective read-through.
|Kitchen Demo given by Lisa from the Waitrose Team|
The itinerary ran as such, whereby before going to cook ourselves, the Waitrose chef team took it in turns to provide a demonstration of the techniques to use for each of the dishes we would make. This demonstration was conducted on a purpose-built kitchen workspace and was supported with cameras and screens to show close up images which really helped to illustrate what we needed to do. We would then go back to our kitchen workstations to then cook the food ourselves. This was repeated for each of the dishes we made.
|Waitrose Cookery School - Kitchen|
With the course topic focusing on Michelin style cookery, it would be impossible to make every element from scratch, so the Waitrose team prepared some of the stages for us in advance and we did the remaining techniques, (where time allowed), the final cooking parts and the overall presentation.
As the token vegetarian on the course, the Waitrose team really looked after me and did a lot of specific preparation for my bespoke menu and they took on board all my dietary requirements which I submitted ahead of attending (for instance - jelly used was veggie friendly jelly).
The courses we made were:
|Gazpacho Jelly with Avocado|
Gazpacho Jelly with Avocado
Matching Wine: Avigue Solutre Rock Macon-Solutre 2012 Burgundy, France
|Mushrooms with Gnocchi & Truffle Emulsion|
Mushrooms with Gnocchi & Truffle Emulsion
Matching Wine: Cave de Beblenheim Grafenreben Riesling 2009/10 Alsace, France
|Aubergine Tower with Polenta Fries, Olive Puree & Sauce Vierge|
Aubergine Tower with Polenta Fries, Olive Puree & Sauce Vierge
Matching Wine: Les Dauphins 2013 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cotes du Rhone
|Orange Cake with Marmalade Cream and Cointreau Caviar|
Orange Cake with Marmalade Cream & Cointreau Caviar
Matching Wine: Brown Brothers Special Late-Harvested Orange Muscat & Flora 2012 Victoria, Australia
|One of the wines served with the course|
|L-R: Carmen and myself at our workstation|
Even though I attended the course alone, I partnered up with another lady called Carmen and together we became ‘station buddies’. As a lot of the cooking is done jointly (where you share the ingredients and utensils), you have to find someone to work together with. The beauty of this type of course is that many of the attendees are like minded so it is so easy to quickly become acquainted and work together. The atmosphere was really friendly and jovial so it was very easy to mix with everyone and find a partner if needs be.
|Wines to accompany the courses|
As the day drew to an end, we were all awarded our attendance certificates which was a nice way to acknowledge our tuition. I for one was thrilled that I chose The Art of Michelin Cooking course as I was able to try out different techniques I wouldn’t ordinarily have the time or the equipment to do at home, making it informative yet fun. Knowing that if I did want to replicate any of the more elaborate techniques, I could go online and buy the necessary equipment or ingredients (such as for the Cointreau caviar). For a special dinner party, it would be tempting to do so! It also gave us the chance to enhance some of the basic techniques we already know and learn a chef’s method by comparison, such as chopping a particular way.
Also, it offers suggestions of new ingredients to try and in our case, Carmen and I were intrigued by the Thai basil that we were using. Neither of us had tasted it before and we were elated to have found a new herb for our kitchen repertoire. Although looking like standard basil, Thai basil has somewhat of an aniseed aftertaste which is rather pleasant yet punchy and would pep-up a salad or vegetable dish beautifully.
Courses come in half or full day packages and range from making macaroons and bread to cuisine specific courses, varying in complexity, but most definitely there is something on offer for everyone. I would wholeheartedly recommend the course I attended and look forward to seeing what is available for next year.
With Christmas on the horizon, the courses or course vouchers, make for a wonderful experiential gift idea for that special someone who enjoys creating a little magic in the kitchen!
Disclosure: This post has been written following receipt of a complimentary course voucher for Waitrose Cookery School . This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review. For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.