Christmas gift guides 2013: Cookery courses

Need a gift for a budding chef? Treat them to a specialist short course taught by industry experts.

Across the UK there are numerous food courses that cover all manner of bases and skillsets. They make a thoughtful and memorable gift choice, whether you’re buying for an experienced home cook with gaps in their repertoire, or a novice wanting to venture down an unexplored avenue. Here’s a round up of nationwide classes for the new year.

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Baking

kneading bread
Nationwide baking classes cater for all skillsets and most areas of the flour world. Bread courses are ideal for those who want to grapple with hands-on everyday baking, but patisserie, macaron and icing classes offer a chance to learn more refined, niche skills.

Biscuit icing

Top picks:

  • Betty’s Cookery School, Harrogate. Various courses from £170.
  • E5 bakehouse, London. Bread-making day and evening classes from £50.
  • The Jo Wheatley cookery school, Essex. Cake courses from £150.
  • Edd Kimber macaron masterclasses, London. Three hour course £75.
  • Different Breid, Glasgow. Sourdough evening classes £45.
  • Angel Food Kitchen, Brighton. Cupcake baking and decorating class £50.

Butchery

Beyond the basic knife skills, butchery classes also cover curing and sausage making. Once you’ve harvested your own prime cut, many classes also show you how to expertly cook it, throwing in a spot of supper for good measure.

Piece of beef

Top picks:

  • The Ginger Pig,  London. Butchery class gift token £135
  • Barbecoa, London. Pork, beef and lamb classes from £125
  • Taste the Wild cookery school, North Yorkshire. ‘A Deer in a Day’ class, £95.
  • The Empire Farm, Somerset.  Various courses from £100.
  • The Wellbeing Farm, Bolton. Courses from £40.
  • Emma’s Pigs, Herefordshire. Day courses £125.

Fish courses

Fish

Covering not only traditional scaling, filleting and cooking skills, fish courses also offer guidance on picking the finest specimens and sometimes cover shellfish and more unconventional fruits of the waterworld. Some of them will even net you a professional qualification.

Top picks:

  • Billingsgate Market, South East London. Traditional courses from £185.
  • Rick Stein’s Seafood School, Padstow. Evening demonstrations from £16.
  • Leith’s School of Food and Wine, London. Evening fish course £405.

Cheesemaking

Cheese

Enter the wonderful world of whey with a trip to a cheesemaker. These courses are often rural as the workshops are close to dairy farms, but despite being in the heart of the countryside they aren’t all about traditional British cheeses – expect to learn how to make mozzarella, feta and halloumi, too.

Top picks:

  • Moorlands Cheesemakers, Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Devon, Hampshire, Derbyshire and Dorset. ‘Cutting the Curd’ classes, £65 a session.
  • Mandy Nolan’s Cheesemaking Workshop, Sussex. Six-hour interactive session, £95.
  • Cwmcrwth Farm, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Day cheese courses, £90.

Beer

Many breweries across the UK offer courses and tours, however Brewlab runs several industry-respected practical courses. Based at the University of Sunderland, a daylong introduction course costs £265.

pasta making
Pasta making

It’s harder than you think to feed fresh pasta through a wringer – enroll on a class to teach you the basic dough-making, rolling and cutting skills.

Top picks:

  • Carluccio’s nationwide pasta-making classes. £35 plus goody bag.
  • Jamie Oliver Recipease adult and child pasta classes, London and Brighton. Classes from £20.

Cookery schools

Offering a wide selection of courses from foraging to professional qualifications, it’s worth seeking out a professional cookery school to suit your bespoke needs. Plus, a lot of them are remote, so you get a mini-break out of it too!

Top picks:

Leiths School of Food and Wine, London

Food Safari, Ipswich

Welsh Cookery School, various locations around West Wales

River Cottage, Axminster, Devon

Italian Secrets, Beaconsfield

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Have you attended a really great cookery course? Share your experiences with us below…