Cookery schools are one of those things I’ve always fancied but never done. A lot like the waitress in my local pub, if I think about it. I can’t pinpoint why, other than a deep ingrained fear that you pay all that money for a morning drinking tea with ageing ladies, whilst watching someone highly trained demonstrating something that you’ll never be able to achieve. But then I would say that, because I am a pig headed fool that feeds off stereotype until I know otherwise. Which I now do. I can now tell you that with all honesty I had one of the best days I have had in many years at Simpsons cookery school.
First, let me be upfront with the truth. Nosh and I were invited to the friends and family day at Eureka, the new cookery school, which is even more astonishing given that we fall into neither category. The cookery school launches this weekend in an upstairs section of the restaurant that has been given the full makeover. It’s an impressive space that looks like it cost a lot of money. After donning an apron that I looked way too good in, we move onto banks of tables facing the gleaming new kitchen headed up by Nathan Eades, the Head Chef here.
This isn’t going to be like a normal post, because the food I’m eating is what we made, and therefore I’m less likely to be a judgemental prick. On the menu is salmon, roast chicken, finishing with an apricot and frangipane tart. I wont bore you with the finer details other than we had a hands-on teaching of some important techniques. We cured salmon, butchered a poussin, made pastry, pickled veg, and plated up food. We made gnocchi, which Claire would love me tell you that hers were the best. She’s quite proud of that and has pictures to prove it. It’s all I’ve heard all week. She’s shit at rolling pastry though, so swings and roundabouts and all that.
The skill to this school is the approach. We learnt things at our time, not once rushed, and always assisted when required. The result is a morning that is as varied as it is interesting. After the bulk of the cookery is done we take a glass of champagne in the garden whilst the table settings are changed from school to chefs table. From here we work in groups at serving courses to the standard of a Michelin starred level, pouring wine and eating the food we all prepared. It’s perfect. A way to meet new friends over a shared love of eating.
Lunch concludes with a question and answer session with the main man himself, before us two drunkards take the last of wine back into the sprawling garden sunshine. A day at Eureka will cost you north of a ton, but that to us seems value that we’re willing to return to very soon. We’re still talking about it five days on, trying to weave the techniques into the stuff we do at home, thinking about who would appreciate the experience as a present, and who to make that bloody gnocchi for. My love for Simpsons as a restaurant has always been there; it’s just now added another facet, one that will improve me as a cook and feed me at the same time.
I was invited to try the Eureka at Simpsons. For details please see here; http://www.simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk/eureka-kitchen