I am a self-taught cook, for the most part. I have occasionally been shown a trick or two by someone with more skills than myself, but mostly I have worked out from trial and error how to make the meals in my repertoire. I like to think I'm pretty good, but there is always room for improvement - and that's where cookery classes and courses come in. It's been on my wish list to go to a cookery school for a long time, but they are often prohibitively expensive and so it's always been relegated down the list in favour of other pursuits, but I suspect that is all about to change with the opening of Leeds Cookery School.
Based just outside of the city centre at The Old Fire Station, Leeds Cookery School is part of the charity Zest - Health for Life, who support vulnerable people and those living in disadvantaged areas of the city and 100% of their profits will be going towards making the charity sustainable and helping them carry out their work in Leeds. There's a real mix of classes from beginner's introductions to more specialised lessons from expert chefs, from cooking the perfect steak to how to run a supper club (both relevant to my interests, FYI), bread-making to making the perfect roast dinner. And with prices starting at just £45.00 for an after-work class, it's an accessible way to improve your skills that also makes you feel a bit smug for basically donating to charity.
They very kindly invited me down to try out their pasta making class and I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. In a little over two hours, we were given all the basics to make tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom sauce and it was the perfect primer to trying it at home (as soon as I buy that pasta maker I've had my eye on!). We went from flour and eggs to perfectly al dente pasta, with almost no incidents. Other than when my pasta strips all got a little stuck together... but I know how to fix that next time! Everyone was super friendly (this is Yorkshire, after all) and the class was pitched perfectly; you only needed a very basic knowledge of cooking to understand what was going on (no fancy chef's terms here!) and there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions about everything from pasta making to which knives you need in your kitchen arsenal.
It turns out that pasta making is a very satisfying way to spend an evening; anything cooked from scratch always tastes better than the ready-made counterpart but that's even more true for pasta. I was a little smug as I devoured my homemade pasta at the end of the evening, and I am definitely going to give it a go on my own now that I have a little bit of knowledge behind me (although they do say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing - come back to me when both me and my kitchen are covered in flour and pasta dough...). I can't imagine this will be the only time I will be a student at the Leeds Cookery School, either; I've already got my eye on some of the classes they are currently running and I know there will be some more exciting ones around the corner, for sure!
Disclaimer: I attended the Leeds Cookery School for free but I was already checking out their classes before the invite very handily dropped into my inbox as they seemed like such a bargain - and I was right!