Essex Producers… The Cookery School at Braxted Park

PUBLISHED: 13:12 06 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 October 2013




THE Cookery School at Braxted Park initially opened its doors in 2009, teaming up with a number of award-winning chefs to provide a range of cookery classes for all abilities. Set against a backdrop of 500 acres of parkland on the Braxted Park estate, the school offers courses in a number of cuisines including Indian, Italian and vegetarian cookery, however, it quickly outgrew its home in the Walled Garden of the estate.

As a result, in 2011 The Cookery School moved to the old boiler house at Braxted Park. Teaming up with Colchester-based kitchen designer, Richard Davonport, the kitchen was built with the students of the school at the core of the design, with fully-equipped work stations and state-of-the-art ovens and hobs all facing some stunning views over the Essex countryside. The establishment of The Cookery School at Braxted Park in its new home was helped by Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funding, which is supported by Defra and the EU.

The school continues to work with a number of the UK’s leading chefs including Master Chef champion Peter Bayless, food author Ursula Ferrigno and top fine dining chef William Grinsted. With this stable of talent at its finger tips The Cookery School is able to provide a wide range of cookery classes for students of all abilities. Some of the most popular courses include Brilliant Baking, Fabulous French Provincial, An Introduction to Thai and Modern British Food. Another popular course is William’s Everlasting English course, where students learn that English cuisine doesn’t have to be limited to roast beef or steak and kidney pie. Drawing from his passion for using fresh and local ingredients, William creates a menu which is influenced by his own diverse experience and includes dishes like stilton and pear salad, eggs Benedict, pan-fried pork chop with bubble and squeak and cider mustard or perhaps a beef wellington with fondant potato and red wine gravy, finished off with Eton mess with a hazelnut meringue or simply a really good apple pie made with proper homemade custard and ice cream churned yourself.

William explains: ‘We teach a massive range of abilities as the different courses are tailored and even per class the abilities can range widely too. The courses attract people from all across Essex and London too.’

The day usually begins at 9am with a coffee while students meet the rest of the group, then by 9.30am its off to the kitchen to start preparing. The students make one or two dishes in the morning and then get together again to enjoy eating them at 11.30am. After that, its back to the kitchen for more cooking, usually another five dishes, finishing around 3.30pm. It’s not all hard graft however, and at the end of your day students are rewarded with a well-deserved glass of wine and sit down together to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Braxted Park also caters for corporate days offering a group of 24 employees the chance to use the day as a team-building challenge. The retail classes for individuals are usually involve between eight and 12 people on the course, which is a good-sized group as everyone gets to bond with each other.

And who knows where your culinary skills could take you. William joined the school after teaching privately for both adults and children and then celebrating his wedding at Braxted Park. ‘I popped my head in to say hello. That was three years ago now and they asked me to 
join them.’

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