Our pick of the Cookery Schools
There’s a cookery course out there for everyone – from one-day sessions in Italian cuisine, to year-long diplomas costing thousands. A cookery course isn’t necessarily essential to secure a role in a chalet, but they can really give you a great foundation to progress into a cooking career. There are hundreds of courses available, so we have selected some of the best and most advanced options for serious cooks and budding chefs. There are plenty of others we haven’t mentioned, including Abingers, Lakefield or Orchards Cookery School, who teach basic skills on a one-week course – more suited to Chalet Hosts and first-time seasonnaires. Aside this is a whole host of course attached to famous names including Raymond Blanc’s or Jamie Oliver’s Cookery School to name a few. We’d always advise looking into each course thoroughly to find the one that will serve you best for your intended aim, but to give you an overview, here is our pick of some of the best out there…
Leith’s is one of the best-known cookery schools around and their professional courses are renowned in the food industry. It’s a great option for those who are really looking to start a career in food and cooking, giving students a full toolbox of skills. They do a foundation or advanced certificate in food and wine, and an essential evening cooking course, but their standout course is the 9-month diploma. With the diploma, students get training in all areas of food and wine, menu planning, budgeting, food trends…basically everything you need to start a career in food! The teachers are all highly experienced and there’s a maximum of eight students in a class, so you will get professional, personal guidance. Prices obviously vary depending on which course you do and more info can be found at the link above.
For budding chefs over in Ireland, the Ballymaloe Cookery School has a great reputation and has been running courses for nearly 35 years. They are best known for their 12-week certificate, which is a great stepping-stone into cookery. They have a student to teacher ratio of 6:1, which guarantees students expert tuition and personal attention. They also have their own organic farm, which supplies a huge amount of the produce for the course – students get to cook daily with fresh, quality ingredients!
The school was set up by Darina Allen and her brother Rory O’Connell. She was well established already as the author of multiple books and presenter on 6 Television series, and they are now considered to be the home of Irish Country cuisine and hospitality. Alongside their 12-week certificate, there are various short courses on offer, from half-day to month-long options.
You’ve heard the saying…this really is the “Cordon Bleu” of cookery schools…literally! This renowned cookery school teaches the fundamental techniques in classic cooking and the art of pastry, bread, wine and nutrition. The diploma is recognised around the world and is respected by professionals and experts in the industry – some of whom may even be teaching you! The facilities and equipment at Le Cordon Bleu are also some of the most advanced around and allow students to learn French classical cooking as well as more modern techniques (think water baths, tandoori ovens and a professional wine tasting room). It’s no wonder Le Cordon Bleu is so well known having been founded in 1895 and their Le Grand Diplome is their most intense and comprehensive programme available. Based in London, this course doesn’t come cheap, but for serious wannabe-chefs this is the place to learn traditional French techniques and innovative culinary skills.
The Ashburton Cookery School is one of the UK’s top cookery schools with over 40 courses to choose from. Ranging from courses for beginners to established chefs, they are run by professionals who will take your cooking skills to the next level. They have either foundation, intermediate or advanced levels, the latter of which is suited for students looking to cook to a fine-dining level. But for those with a real passion for cooking and starting a career in the industry, the Chef’s Academy is the course for you, to learn fundamental skills, techniques and to wow with inspirational dishes. You can become a fully qualified chef in 6 months with their Professional Culinary Diploma, an intense course that could turn your passion into a career, or simply choose a four-week Certificate in Professional Cookery – all with the option to stay in the beautiful surroundings of the cookery school residences.
Tante Marie is another long-standing cookery school in the UK, which has been running for over 60 years. Again, it has a great reputation and students like that they focus entirely on practical cooking skills. Their flagship Cordon Bleu Diploma doesn’t come cheap (coming in at just over £20k) but it’s for those who are serious about food and looking to take the first steps towards a career in food and drink. The diploma is internationally recognised and runs for a year, teaching a range of culinary skills and techniques. They also run an Intensive Cordon Bleu Diploma, which results in a professional qualification in cookery, or gap year courses, including a Chalet Cooks Academy – perfect to set you up for a ski season. This course, costing £2,400 covers essential skills across different areas of cookery giving students the knowledge to cook great food (and perfect their hosting skills) for a chalet environment.
So do your research, make sure the course is right for you and get stuck in to really get the best out of what’s on offer. You never know where it might lead…!
Silver Swan are going to be at the Cordon Bleu job fair meeting lots of potential new candidates – we’re hoping to register a number of new and experienced chefs and get them on our books for winter work. Hope to see some new graduates there!