Are you planning to sign up for a course of cookery lessons? If you’ve already started your search, it might seem a little overwhelming as there is such a huge array of choice.
The unprecedented and meteoric rise in the past couple of decades in the popularity of cookery, celebrity chefs and TV shows coupled with drastic changes in eating habits, improved knowledge and awareness of nutrition and health and the ease of access to many global cuisines have all led to a new emerging market of cooking academies for people to attend in their leisure time.
So how do you make the right decision when considering which cookery school will be the best place for you to develop new culinary skills?
A great place to start would be to decide which type of course you’d like to do and what specific skills you’d like to learn. Do you want to do a half day or a whole day? Or a weekly set of lessons spread over several months? Is there a particular cuisine you’d like to know more about or a specific area of cooking where you’re lacking in knowledge? Maybe you’d like to learn to cook more healthily, or to do a course in how to cook Mexican, Thai, French, Italian or Indian food. Perhaps you want to learn how to butcher meat, fillet fish or hone your knife skills. Whatever your goal, there will be a cookery school that offers the right course for you.
It’s a good idea to have a rough budget in mind, so that you know how much you’re willing to spend on the course. You should also decide how far you would be willing to travel to attend the cookery course. In many places you would not need to travel very far to find a great school, but if you would be prepared to travel to attend a school with an exceptional reputation or for a specific type of course then this will give you more options to choose from.
Once you’ve made these initial decisions, the next logical step for you would be to do an online search to find out which cookery schools there are within your search areas and which offer the courses you’re interested in. Look at reviews and testimonials on their websites and Trip Advisor to find out what others have said about their courses and to get a feel for their credibility and reputation. Have they won any awards or do they have any affiliation with any well-known professionals or industry bodies?
Once you’ve found some contenders, make sure the schools you consider offer a course that is appropriate for your current level of ability. If you attend a course that has been created for people who have less experience than you, it’s unlikely you’ll learn very much. On the other hand, if you opt for a course which is too advanced for your current skill set it’s likely you won’t be able to keep up and might find you get lost along the way. Either way, you probably won’t feel like you’ve got great value from the experience or that it has been time well spent – and that’s bound to leave a sour taste.
Recommendations based on personal experiences are always very helpful when it comes to choosing places to go in general, and this is no different. If you know any friends, family or colleagues who have done cookery courses in the past, you could ask them whether they would endorse the school and that could help you make your decision. When you visit restaurants, why not find out which cookery schools the chefs would recommend?
Before making any final decisions, you should contact the cooking academies within your shortlist and find out more from them. Ask about their facilities and equipment, the teachers and their accreditations, group sizes, fees and how the course is structured. You might even be able to visit (if that is practical for you) to help you further still in making your decision on whether this is the right school and course to help you develop your love of cooking.
After you’ve finally made that important decision, you should book your chosen course. Then all that’s left is to enjoy the countdown and look forward to becoming a mini-celebrity among your family and friends thanks to your new-found culinary brilliance!
This article was written by Tim Tavender with the support and help of The Cooking Academy in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.