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Edinburgh New Town Cookery School Alumni

I was asked to write a piece for the Edinburgh New Town Cookery regarding my time there.

In my early teens I inherited a battered 1st edition of Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking from my Grandmother. It sounds very clichéd but reading the recipes it felt as if a whole new world had been opened up and I can’t to this day roast a pepper without thinking about Elizabeth David. This was my ‘gateway drug’ to Richard Olney, Simon Hopkinson, Patience Gray, The River Café books and a love of everything food based.

I was 33 when I joined the cook school and had left behind a 12 year career in estate agency. Initially I was intensely nervous about losing the security that my career provided me, but I was surprised at the way I adapted and the welcoming nature of the culinary world. I undertook stages in two of Edinburgh’s top Michelin starred restaurant kitchens and worked for a number of leading caterers whilst on the course.

Without a doubt geography played a big role in where I wanted to train but I also wanted to find a course that had the same passion for cookery I did. The course is well structured being based over an intense six months. Having bills to pay there was a limited amount of time I could have spent in full time education and I was far more attracted to this course over others that are less intense but spread out over a longer time period.

I had always very much focused on savoury foods. The course really inspired me and gave me the confidence to tackle complicated sweet dishes and making a Dobez Torte was a real highlight, as was making my own personal favourite, Battenberg cake.

It’s easy to think you know everything about cooking having read all the books and watched all the television programmes. What I found most useful about the course was being able to ask the staff at the cook school all those questions I had pondered previously whilst I cooked from a recipe at home. This inspired me to think more creatively and not be confined by what a recipe said. So my inspiration came from a true understanding of method and technique learnt at the cook school, which allowed me to create my own recipes. To anyone thinking of taking the course I would say go for it! I wish I could say something a little more insightful but enrolling at ENTCS has been one of my best decisions.