leiths school of food and wine, london


this saturday i spent the morning at leiths school of food and wine. i was doing one of their half-day practical courses along with around 60 others.

the aim, over the course of the morning, was for us to cook a three course meal (in pairs), get advice on techniques and have questions answered about any foodie niggles that we had.

le menu du jour:


roast tomato soup with parmesan croutons


wild mushroom sauté with tagliatelle


toffee peaches with amaretto cream


the morning was well-organised, starting with coffee and biscuits. each group of 8 had its own tutor who talked us through the menu and provided people with help on improving their cooking technique, if requested (most requests seemed to be around knife skills). we were then able to get on with cooking each dish, in our own time, pausing only to request that one of the assistants wipe down the surface, wash our pans or clear-up spills, which was a great luxury!

we finished everything around 1pm, by plating up our tomato soup and sitting down to eat, with glasses of wine. the leiths team then finished off all our dishes (every pan was labelled so you knew you’d be eating your own food, reheating was all that was needed in most cases) and served the finished product to us.

my verdict… i left having had a lovely morning in the kitchen but no more than that. the dishes we cooked were all things i’d happily make myself (homemade pasta included) and i didn’t feel i learnt anything. maybe i should have gone with a list of techniques i wanted to hone (although what would have fitted with that menu i’m not sure) and nagging questions?

and the food? well, it was delicious but it’s not the sort of thing i would cook at home. not interesting enough for a dinner party and far too rich for everyday (one portion of the meal contained 70g butter, 150ml double cream/crème fraiche and 30g cheese – my tummy didn’t know what had hit it!). having said that, others thought it was perfect dinner party fare and were delighted with the menu.

i think that next time i am looking at cookery classes, i should sign up for something more specialist so that the likelihood of me doing something new, and being inspired in fresh ways, is greater. a quick look at the leiths special interest courses throws up a few thoughts but there are obviously many other options in a city like london.