The School of Artisan Food
If you want to learn how to make blue cheese, what do you do? Surf the internet, experiment with milk and mould in Tupperware and hope, or book yourself on to one of The School of Artisan Food’s cheese making courses? Up until October 2009 when the School opened, you would have had little choice but to take the rather alarming DIY approach.
Happily, the School – which teaches students how to make foods that ferment, from bread to cider – is up and running on Welbeck Estate. Thousands of people have attended its short courses since it opened, and places are booked up well in advance. The School also runs an intensive 10 month diploma course.
The idea for the school came about in 2006 when Gareth Kennedy and Alison Swan Parente set up a bakery on Welbeck Estate. They discovered that there were very few skilled bakers around. Conversations with friends in the food world revealed similar skill shortages in many areas, including cheesemaking and butchery.
“Gareth and Alison had a lightbulb moment and realised that a centre of food excellence was needed to train people in the skills of artisan food production,” says Joe Piliero, director at The School of Artisan Food. The East Midlands Development Agency agreed, and offered £900,000 to help set up the School.
The School now has state-of-the-art facilities for teaching butchery and charcuterie, cheese making, baking and patisserie, preserving, brewing, chocolate and ice cream making, and business and enterprise skills. It has a jaw-dropping lecture theatre, superb canteen (it would have been rude not to) and seriously impressive kit. Teachers include renowned experts like baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, master butcher Andrew Sharp and cheesemaker Paul Thomas.
“Demand is strong for all the courses,” says Joe. “Baking and butchery possibly attract the most interest but it’s pretty evenly spread. Very generally speaking, our advanced diploma students tend to be people looking at career changes. They might be home bakers looking to set up small-scale businesses, or food lovers with an interest in cheese who want to open a deli. Having enthusiasm and passion are the most important requirements – food experience is not essential.”
Short courses start at around £100 and include an Introduction to Artisan Cider Making (one day), Pro Blue Cheese Making (three days), Curing and Smoking (one day) and Autumn Preserves (one day). With your Great Food Club card you can get 10% off the quoted prices.
10% off the quoted price of any course except the diploma. Please say you are a member when booking your place and present your card when you arrive.