Looking for foodie heaven? You've just found it!
Nick's aim has always been to offer a level of tuition not available at other cook schools. Nick teaches many of our classes himself. He was the youngest chef to be awarded a Michelin star back in 1991, and now has many years' teaching under his belt. If you're on a class that Nick's not teaching, not to worry, our other chefs' talents and training will serve you well.
It’s not all about Michelin stars, it’s about experience and understanding what people need to learn to be better cooks. We know people are interested in good food but our big question is: once you have people fired up to cook, how do you physically teach them? Chefs learn to cook by repetition, a combination of constant observation and trial and error. It becomes instinctive. This isn’t something you can’t just pick up in a day; unless someone knows how to teach it to you.
Learning how to get that instinctive, sensory, years-of-knowledge thing across was a long process for us. We had to adopt an easy to understand approach and develop a language that would allow people to understand the complex nature of good cooking without being terrified by what was involved!
A pinch of this and a handful of that was no longer sufficiently accurate. We identified the critical points in every dish and highlight them in our teaching. Out came our thermapen thermometers and we logged the exact temperature for perfection – not just for steaks, but for cakes, custards, shellfish the lot. After all, if we didn’t totally understand a dish, how could we possibly teach anybody to prepare it?
Our classes are designed to contain transferrable skills, so although you may master a set menu, the new skills will open up lots of new dishes to you.
Our schools are not home economics departments, nor college or food tech rooms but are purpose built cookery schools. Think less bashed aluminium pans, more boutique hotel. Here you will find nothing but the best. Kitchens International ensure our Poggenpohl & Leicht kitchens looks great and more importantly are practical. We cook on Falcon deluxe range cookers, for their high performance, durability and domestic take on a robust commercial cooker. On them you’ll find the very best cookware: All-Clad & Zwilling, highly responsive pans with sizes for all tasks. Nick has been a career long fan of J.A Zwilling Henckles knives, so three essential sizes are there for you to use each day. Magimix processors, Kenwood blenders and whisks have been tried, tested and given the thumbs up to be used everyday at the school. If the best we can find is commercial grade, we’ll use it but also make it available in our cook shop should you want one too. Our kit is used a lot and when a spoon is bent or something has a crack, we replace it. If it didn’t last as long as we expected it to, we find a better one.
…is king. Scallops are hand dived, beef is aged for a minimum of 28 days, smoked salmon is dry cured and herbs come from the garden. We work very hard to make sure that the produce we use is the best available and responsibly sourced. We have worked extensively with Campbell’s Prime Meat to source produce to our exacting standards. As their name suggests, they source the best Scottish meat and import only the finest charcuterie from the continent. You may also be surprised to hear they specialise in fish too. They source fish daily from Scrabster and Peterhead and hand-pick only the freshest fish landed from boats fishing in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. As well as our school Campbell sources for Scotland’s Michelin starred restaurants. Our dairy produce comes from local farm Graham’s Dairies, salt is from Maldon, chocolate is Vahlrona and it may surprise you to find our favourite all rounder oil comes from Lidl who produces an exceptionally good everyday olive oil.
If there's one thing almost as inspiring as our kitchen, it's our locations. Our Port of Menteith school is a real foodie escape. Hidden away in the foothills of the Trossachs, we're no more than a trout leap from the Lake of Menteith, right at the heart of some of Scotland's finest scenery. This is a proper “get away from it all” place and a luxury destination. An industrial estate we are not. And our Aberdeen location is charming - in a converted church hall - and brilliantly set up, right in the heart of the city centre, on Back Wynd.