Cooking is a necessity in life but being able to do it well doesn’t come easy to everyone. If you’re an expert at burning food and don’t know your spatula from your oven glove, cookery courses teach you all you need to know. On the other hand, if you’re passionate about all things edible and love trying new things in the kitchen, taking a class will allow you to indulge your inner foodie and learn a few new tricks.
There are numerous types of cookery courses aimed at everyone from the aspiring chef or caterer to the microwave meal fanatic. Whether you go for a fun evening class or a cookery course with a recognised qualification at the end, there are certain things that they will probably have in common.
You will learn how to use your kitchen utensils to their potential and what all the terms in your cookery books actually mean. You might learn how to cook certain recipes – particularly if the course focuses on a certain type of cooking like Italian cookery or BBQ dishes.
Cookery courses can be really sociable as you will often find yourself making food in a big kitchen with lots of other wannabe Ainsley Harriotts or Delia Smiths, however many course providers offer one to one tuition, sometimes in your own home. There is also an abundance of cookery courses for those hoping to work as a chef or in the catering industry which usually involve a lot of theory work in related subjects such as health and safety, alongside your practical learning.
Many cookery courses focus on a certain cuisine and with so many options you can almost cook your way around the world. If you’ve always wanted to master making curries then an Indian cookery class will be ideal, or maybe you want to be able to roll sushi like the Japanese? There are plenty of workshops to show you how.
There are also a number of courses that provide good additional knowledge to complement what you’re learning on your cookery courses and make sure the dinners you serve are really impressive. Think baking so you can provide dessert, wine tasting so you can offer the appropriate accompaniment or maybe latte art so you can serve after-dinner coffee with a bit of flair.
We’d also suggest looking at fitness classes to take alongside your cookery tuition since you might find yourself consuming more calories with all the nice food you’re making!
With enough passion and perseverance, you can even make a career out of your love for cookery. It can help to GCSE's in English and Maths, however a lot of the skills you'll learn will be picked up whilst on the job. You can usually get opportunities through an apprenticeship or starting as a kitchen assistant and working your way up. Organisations like the Hospitality Guild will have more information about the training required for a career as a chef.
When starting out on your gastro education you might like to look at what other chefs are doing to get inspiration and find some recipes to try out. To help you swot up, here are a few of our favourite celebrity chefs…
Jamie Oliver shot to celebrity chef fame in 1997 with his show, The Naked Chef (named because of his simple food - not because he was nude!). He's a big fan of Italian cuisine and has opened several 'Jamie's Italian' restaurants in the UK. In recent years Jamie has been involved in various campaigns to improve the food served in British schools.
Delia Smith is a big name in celebrity cookery - so big that she was awarded a CBE by the queen. She's the UK’s most popular cookery writer and she's known for her simple, straight forward style. Delia's all about teaching people the basics - while she has a lot of great recipes to her name, she has also been known to focus on things like how to cook an egg or how to choose ingredients for cakes.
Ainsley Harriott has been a celebrity chef for several years on shows such as Can't Cook, Won't Cook and Ready Steady Cook. He has his own range of food and several cookery books which focus on simple, easy, quick meals that are delicious and nutritionally balanced. Many of his books have been translated into other languages and Ainsley has also made cookery programmes for the US.
Sophie Dahl is relatively new to the celebrity chef world, having worked as a fashion model for many years. She's big on cooking wholesome family food which, while good for you, is delicious and indulgent. She's also the granddaughter of Roald Dahl but we're not sure she had any involvement in the recipe for George's Marvellous Medicine…