Review: Kent Cookery School - a night of culinary fun
What I loved about it:
I had such an enjoyable evening at the Kent Cookery School! It was a great opportunity to try something a little different in a hugely welcoming, fun and friendly environment. The kitchen itself was spotlessly clean and the course catered for all levels, whilst the food certainly delivered! It’s given me the confidence to try some new dishes at home and – best of all – there was no washing up!
Value for money (out of 10):
It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a self-confessed foodie. One of my favourite parts of going on holiday is trying the local cuisine, and I love hosting dinner parties for friends and family. So when the Kent Cookery School invited me to try out one of their Tapas & Prosecco evenings, I jumped at the chance to sample one of their brilliant courses.
Tucked away in a charming cobbled courtyard just outside of Ashford, surrounded by the tranquillity of ancient woodland and deer parks, the Kent Cookery School is a real family affair. Run by husband and wife team, James and Autumn Palmer Rosser, the school hosts a huge variety of day and evening courses, covering everything from Vietnamese street food to marvellous macarons; barbeque skills to curry clubs.
Warm, friendly and welcoming from the moment you book in, their ethos is all about creating a relaxed, enjoyable environment for guests to learn skills, cook delicious dishes and come together to savour some wonderful food. There are no Gordon Ramsay-esque swearing matches or clinical, stainless steel kitchens at this cookery school – but rather cheesy jokes, smiling faces and rustic, oak beams.
Saying that, I did still feel slightly like I was blindly walking into the latest series of MasterChef as I entered the kitchen! Handed a branded green apron (I’d quite like one of these at home to make me feel the part…), and shown to my work station, it all felt very professional, and I half expected Greg Wallace to pop up and ask what I was going to be cooking today. However, we were immediately put at ease by Event Manager Autumn who handed us a glass of Prosecco each, and Head Chef James who introduced us to the team and made some suitably ice-breaking Dad jokes which got us all in the mood for the evening ahead.
There were 12 of us doing the course which was the perfect number to create a sense of liveliness without losing any of the intimacy or 1:1 time with our tutor. Each cooking station is made for 2 with all of the relevant utensils and ingredients, so it’s the ideal activity for a date night or group of friends. However, that’s not to say it can’t be a solo evening out – I was on my own and paired with a lovely like-minded foodie named Lilly who it was an absolute pleasure (and blessing!) to cook with.
The first dish we were taught was Croquettas de Jamon y Queso, made with manchego cheese and serrano ham. Starting from scratch, James gave a full demonstration, explaining each step clearly and offering advice, techniques and tips throughout. This covered everything from how to cut an onion properly (total game changer!), to how to create a silky smooth roux. James’ relaxed approach made everything so straightforward and easy to follow that when it came to doing it ourselves, it wasn’t daunting at all. His expert guidance meant that we could just concentrate on enjoying the process, and trying out the new skills we’d been taught, with the team on hand to help if we were unsure or had questions.
The next dish was the Patatas Bravas, followed by homemade Aioli, flavoursome Padron Peppers, and Gambas al Ajillo as the showstopper at the end. Each recipe was demonstrated and explained so well that nothing felt too complicated or difficult, and (unlike when I often watch cookery shows on TV) there were no ingredients that are not commonplace in most kitchens or easily accessible from your local supermarket. The focus was on simple, yet delicious food that would undoubtedly impress in any dinner party setting.
Finally, once everything was sizzled, flaméed (they let me use the blowtorch on the prawns which was both exhilarating and terrifying, all at once!) and seasoned, we were able to tuck into the fruits of our labour. I can safely (and proudly!) say that it did not disappoint! My personal favourites were the Patatas Bravas and Gambas al Ajillo which were both absolutely bursting with flavour, but everything was just delicious – and even more so for the fact that we’d cooked every part ourselves. Any leftovers were then packaged up for us to take home. I’ve told my Husband not to get used to me coming home with expertly prepared late-night snacks, but they did go down well!
The Kent Cookery School strikes the perfect balance between a fun, unique night out and an informative, skill-building course. The passion and enthusiasm that the team has for good food and cooking is evident, and absolutely infectious. Paired with their warm, welcoming approach, this makes for an undoubtedly winning formula. The courses cater to all levels of experience and the recipes themselves were challenging yet attainable, taught in a relaxed and easy-to-follow way. All topped off with a delicious meal without the washing up – what more could you ask for?!
Whether you’re looking for a hen weekend activity, unique date night or just to learn some new skills, I would thoroughly recommend booking one of Kent Cookery School’s wonderful courses! Other upcoming courses include: Macaron Masterclass, Couples Cooking, Thai Street Food, Plant Based Cooking, The Bread Course, Mexican Street Food and Taste Of France. Please see their website for more details.