Season Cookery School, Lainston House
Muddy says: Super whizzy training kitchen combined with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and zero high-octane, hell’s kitchen faff. Want to polish up your wooden spoon skills? Then this is the place to do it.
The school is based in Lainston’s converted Well House; all wooden beams, exposed brick-work and a 92-metre deep well. Prepare yourself for reverse vertigo as it is visible, but fully covered so no falling in after a glass or two of wine. In the rafters, you can still see the driving gear where donkeys once winched water to the surface. The kitchen itself is slick with white units, sculptural extractor fans and blond, wooden beams.
Zen with a horizontal ‘z’. Teacher, ex-Lainston Chef Sylvain Gachot, is relaxed, fun and all about encouraging participants to create food that they love. There are recipes and techniques to follow, but when it came to spices and flavour, veering off piste is positively celebrated.
On the menu
It changes, but on the day Muddy Hants visited we made chicken curry, naan, rice pilau and chocolate fondant.
The school runs special parent and child days for seven-year-olds and upwards. Otherwise most of the sessions are for adults often celebrating a milestone birthday, on a hen or stag do, or simply indulging their love of cooking. After the first visit, many students return again and again.
What to expect?
Sylvain gives a demo before each course: knife skills, kneading, toasting spices and so on. Then it’s over to the pupils but with lots of help from the chef and his assistant, Sue, giving pro-tips.
The atmosphere is friendly, jokey, relaxed with zero high-octane, hell’s kitchen faff. The whole experience is also wonderfully tactile: pupils measure, mix and slice their own ingredients.
And to end? Well it’d be rude not to sample the fruit of your labours, with a glass of wine bien sûr.
The school offers a range of courses covering everything from Thai, Malaysian & Moroccan cookery, via soufflé masterclasses and making your own gifts. Corporate days are also available.