Kent Cookery School
Driven by what seems to be a mounting interest in food provenance, homemade, and the consumers’ desire to trace the source of their fare, it seems the demand for more cooking schools, demonstrative chef’s tables, foraging courses and alike is at an all time high. And aptly, our rural county of Kent is certainly no exception.
by Gemma Dunn
Always the sous and never the chef, I’m not afraid to admit I am a creature of habit when it comes to my kitchen ‘skills’ and perhaps a cooking lesson or two would serve me well. Willing to learn however and ready to be inspired in the art of cuisine, a concept that has intrigued me in recent years is the ever-increasing trend for group cookery classes.
Leading the culinary pack is Kent Cookery School, a refreshing set up that seamlessly blends the concept of hands-on ‘schooling’ with a passion for producing simple, honest food.
Located just outside of Ashford, amidst the charming Mersham le Hatch estate, the school has become a celebrated fixture on the county’s culinary scene since its establishment back in 2011. Today, run by husband-and-wife team, Daniel Kennedy and Lucie Moore, it has prospects aplenty.
First and foremost, the kitchen is headed up by Daniel, a London-born professional chef who has enjoyed stints at the Houses of Parliament and Gordon Ramsay’s three-Michelin-star restaurant in Chelsea, amongst other prestigious haunts. After spending the early part of his career working in various fine dining establishments, Daniel went on to run a high profile events catering company in central London; however, it was his time spent working in Devon with the local fishermen, game keepers and farmers that inspired his love of simple, quality, seasonal British produce.
Three years into teaching and Kent Cookery School affords Daniel the perfect platform to enthuse and inspire those looking to share his passion for good food, or at the very least, enhance one’s culinary skills. Whether you are an amateur cook, food enthusiast, or simply looking to have a bit of fun, there is a course for you.
One Monday in late October, I was the aforementioned amateur student attending a cookery lesson with my colleagues, all of whom varied in experience. Perhaps I fancy the romantic idealism that I often associate with professional cooking, or maybe I’m just incredibly aware of my need to advance, but either way I was looking forward to it.
The group was divided up into pairs and following an expert demonstration from Daniel, we set about perfecting our own recipes in line with the guidelines set. The only specifications being that we had to produce two fresh fruit tartlets and two mini quiches, all of which required different ingredients from the table of fresh, local, seasonal fare.
With a two-hour deadline, (organised) chaos and a huge amount of fun ensued as each pair battled to take the crown. The cook-off culminated in a presentation of our finished products, whereby Daniel judged each pairing on their teamwork, plus their food’s presentation and taste.
Enjoyed by all, the experience not only marked a great start to the working week, but it did what it said on the tin and inspired me to go home, experiment, and build confidence in the field. It even motivated one or two of my colleagues to bake, which is never a bad thing in a shared office environment.
In addition to such competition-led events, the school offers a vast range of day and evening classes, as well as demonstrations, private instruction, corporate events (the newly reformed pantry provides a multi-functional space for up to 20 guests), hen, stag, birthday parties and more. Choose anything from bread making, French, Italian, authentic Thai, and Mexican street food, to foraging, wild food courses, and seasonal specials. Better still, the school welcomes all ages through its doors, catering for the likes of children, OAPs, and everyone in between.
Can’t think past the busy festive season at present? Kent Cookery School is hosting a handful of events throughout December including Easy Christmas Entertaining. For more information on this course and all other goings-on, call 01233 501771 or visit www.kentcookeryschool.co.uk.
Looking to treat your loved one to something a little different this Christmas? Invest in a gift voucher direct from Kent Cookery School. This fabulous offering can be used to book onto one of the school’s set experiences or courses. Check the website or call for more details.Kent Cookery School Mersham le Hatch Business Village