Friday, 6 March 2009

Highland Fling (Part Two)

MY FIRST impressions were 'wow'.
The kitchens at Braehead Cook School in Kilmarnock - whether you are an amateur or pro chef - are superb.
The school's shiny and new and we were privy to the first 'proper' class with paying customers.
Our day began with fresh coffee and homemade muffins (yet more delicious food) in the dining room, with a debrief from Steven Doherty - the school's managing director.
Steven's reputation proceeds him, having cheffed for the Roux brothers at the Michelin-starred Le Gavroche before setting up his own gastro pubs in the north of England. He's now a consultant for kitchen equipment giant Lakeland and runs their restaurant in the Lake District. For me, it was exciting to be in such company.
And so the kitchen beckoned where we met our chef du jour, Eddie Fagan, who led the day-long Fiesta of Fish course.
The three course menu we'd be cooking, and later eating, looked like the equivalent of climbing Mount Kilimajaro.
The starter of fregola pasta risotto with langoustines, basil and Sunblush tomatoes topped with pan-fried scallops was something I'd have ordered in a restaurant, but never attempt to cook.
However, Eddie - the resident chef at the Park Hotel in Kilmarnock - guided us through each course, with a full demonstration, followed by help as we cooked at our work stations. With a class of just 10 or 12, and a few other friendly chefs on hand, this was more than manageable.
A main course of sea bass on carrot mash with mussel and smoked haddock broth was straightforward, yet looked like a Michelin-star meal... and even tasted like one, even if I do say so myself.
"Compliments to the chef," I proclaimed as I lapped up the final mouthful of sauce.
Courses were eaten in a civilised fashion in the dining room, which was complimented with waitress service, wine, bread and coffee.
Our meal concluded with a gut-busting dark chocolate and orange torte with raspberries, berry coulis and whipped cream.
I would most definitely be leaving Scotland bonnier than when I went... and it had nothing to do with eating battered Mars bar.
It was a truly inspirational day and at the end of it I was itching to get back into my own kitchen and wow the boy with all I had learned.
The school's running courses to suit all tastes and skill levels from Oriental cuisine to pasta-making.
If this first session was anything to go by foodies are in for a real treat. The quality of ingredients, facilities and teaching expertise far surpassed my expectations and at £150 per couple, per session, represents real value for money.
For more details on Braehead Cook School visit the website


Lara (Thinspired) said...

I have always wanted to take cooking classes! I didn't realize that was the point of the trip. How wonderful! Very cool that you got the waitress service, too :)

Emily said...

Yes, it was a one-day cookery course so we combined with some sight seeing and shopping, and a lot of eating!