Last week I visited Rutland Cookery School ran by Chef, Robin Stewart. Located in Oakham Enterprise Park the school is position on the left as you enter OEP Gate 2. Small from the outside Rutland Cookery School is a spacious and relaxed place to learn with Chef Robin offering a range of courses and cooking lesson to suit whatever kind of cookery skill you'd like to gain experience in.
I attended the 4 hour Bread Making class. The class consisted of four pupils, however there is around 8 working stations in the school should there be more participants.
Sometimes learning to cook, especially surrounded by others of all kinds of experiences however the atmosphere as well as Robin calm teaching technique makes learning different recipes and baking skills a lot easier than I originally thought.
Robin provides all the ingredients as well as an apron, so you don't need to bring anything to the lesson other than yourself. Taking part in the bread making course was great whatever your experience level in bread making. Robin taught us 4 very different bread recipes using local ingredients such such as the flour from Whissendine Mill, as well as milk from local dairies too.
After the course had finished and I drove home proud with my handmade bread and little 'Rutland Cookery School' recipe book with the breads we'd made inside, all on the passenger seat, I wrote some questions for Robin to answer about Rutland Cookery School, and here's what he had to say...
Thank you for letting me take part in your bread making class last week, I had so much fun and learnt so much! When did you open Rutland Cookery School and what was the idea behind the business?
RCS opened late January this year. The aim was to share my love not just of cooking, but sharing my knowledge and skills.
Can anyone book to take part in a class at the school or do you have to be a member or of any cooking experience?
Anyone can attend a course at the school, my teaching style is supportive and adapts to all abilities to ensure everyone benefits from their day at RCS. Courses are priced at £60 (3 hours, day / evening), £75 (4 hours) and £120 (full day 10-4). Prices include VAT and all ingredients.
You’re not just a master chef, but a keen food photographer too is that right? Please tell us more about your other passion.
I am a food photographer too and work commercially for restaurants, pubs, food manufacturers etc. It is a natural extension of teaching cookery and something I love. I run food photography workshops at the school too which are great fun. I have been short-listed in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. I was a finalist in 2015 and have some exciting news to share soon!
I found the class very enjoyable and was a calming way to learn. Many people think being a chef and learning to cook is a stressful experience, however I found the course a very stress-free and felt I understood and learnt each technique with ease. Are you passionate about making cooking a less daunting experience for beginners and like to show your pupils that it doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience, and in fact in very fun!
It's really important to me that no one feels daunted at being in the kitchen. The stress and speed that is part of professional kitchens has no place in a school and I want to encourage people to cook more at home, not less. It is an essential part of teaching that people feel encouraged and supported. This increases confidence and enjoyment. Cooking should be fun!
Have you always been a chef? And was opening a cookery school in Rutland your life dream?
I have always been a chef, from the age of 16, so a few years now :-) I have been fortunate to work in some of the best kitchens in the UK as well as in Switzerland and Australia. Opening a cookery school has been a dream for nearly 20 years now, it was important to me to train properly first and I hold a preparation to teach in the lifelong learning sector certificate. I am a registered relief lecturer and have taught at New College Stamford (evening classes and 16-19 year olds).
Other than bread making courses what other courses and services do you offer at Rutland Cookery School?
At RCS we offer a wide variety of courses suitable for all abilities. Some are cuisine specific, South East Asian or Italian for example, others are perhaps more skills based - fish, poultry, baking or knife skills for example.
If our readers want to get in touch or browse your available courses where do they do this, and where can they find you?
The best way to find about about available courses is via the website www.rutlandcookeryschool.co.uk The school is easy to find at Oakham Enterprise Park and there is plenty of on-site parking.
Rutland Cookery School
Gate 2, Oakham Enterprise Park, Ashwell Road, Oakham, LE15 7TU