I really wanted to blog about it whilst the experience was fresh in my mind (unlike our second Center Parcs post which I left several months and then it becomes harder to find the time to write things up!)
Waitrose has always been synonymous with excellence. The stores stock really great fresh produce, often seasonally, locally and responsibly sourced. The staff always go above and beyond the call of duty, and they have great initiatives to benefit local charities and the local community. They have even been extremely supportive of our homeschooling by kindly giving my boys some fresh fruit and veg produce for one of their projects.
We are pleased to say that ethos of excellence extends beyond their stores and into their cookery school too. As we were lucky enough to not have to buy the kids many Christmas presents thanks to the generosity of amazing toy brand The Toadstool, we were able to treat J and D to a very special experience instead - a family cooking day at Waitrose Cookery School.
We wanted to do something special to enable our 'brilliant chef', D, to be able to cook in a 'proper chefs kitchen' as that is something that means so much to him after his experience at the Kent Cooks Live Final in 2012. He was unable to enter Kent Cooks in 2013 because the date of the final clashed with another oh-so-special foodie day, his trip to Noma. (I know, I know its a hard life being a 7 year old food fanatic!)
This was actually the first of their cookery school courses where kids were involved after receiving many enquiries everyday. It is indeed something we emailed to enquire about several months ago, too, so it was great to see it come to fruition in what we hope was the first of many family cooking days. Their courses do get booked up quickly so if something grabs your attention, I'd encourage you to book straight away.
|D helps mash the avocado in the theatre|
|J prepares the chicken with adding herbs and spices|
Whilst the brownie finished off cooking, our attention turned to making lunch...Toad-in-the-hole. This recipe added thyme to the batter and we made a redcurrant gravy to accompany it.
The timings had been worked out perfectly. Real recipes - easy enough to make for the kids to get involved in all the tasks and yet not at all 'watered down' for them. Both J and D really enjoyed being involved in all the preparation and took great pride in seeing what they had achieved.
Another unexpected bonus was the 'magic trolleys'. Any utensils, pots and pans could be put on the magic trolleys to be washed. Whilst we beleive it is important for kids to learn about all the jobs in the kitchen including learning to wash up it was really helpful to not have to do our own washing up today so we could focus on supporting the children and learning how to make the recipes.
|D was in his element using a sharp knife to practice his chopping skills!|
|There was even time to 'sniff out' some flavours from Sylvana's magic flavour box|
|Hmm? What flavour shall I get them to guess next?|
|Recipe sheets were provided for us to keep|
Really special touches were that you could bring home anything you didn't manage to eat, and the children were able to keep their aprons. We were kept well hydrated with a range of fabulous drinks throughout the day from the front of house team and we all received certificates at the end.
Sylvana was a great instructor and she gave us confidence in ourselves in the kitchen. Waitrose Cookery School chefs Claire and Martin were also on hand to help us all through the day.
There were just the right number of people on the course get the most out of the day and the cookery school workstations were really well equipped. The whole atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. We never imagined such a TARDIS would await us when we first arrived in the morning. There was a spacious area for eating as well as a well spaced kitchen area and high-tech theatre room.
|A TARDIS of a cookery school lay behind this door in Finchley|
|A spacious kitchen area with workstations|
|A high-tech theatre room|
|A welcoming dining and relaxing area|
We'll leave you with a quick video of what Miss T thought of the brownie. Although she couldn't join us today (the minimum age is 5, at least she got to have a taste, plus she had a whale of a time with Granny and Grandad).