If you’re still on the hunt for Christmas pressies for foodie friends or family or you want to know what to do with Boxing Day leftovers, you may want to check out the new Waitrose Cookery School, a first for the premium supermarket chain which began in West London and counts the Queen as a customer. Londonist was invited to the press night to make macaroons and cocktails so how could we say no?
The school is situated above the Waitrose branch on Finchley Road and comprises of a theatre, teaching area, dining area, bar and kitchen. The courses include Thai, Japanese and Italian cooking, wine matching and learning about knives. Unlike some cookery schools, you won’t need to go to the ends of the earth to buy the equipment and ingredients used on the courses as they are all available either through Waitrose or its parent company John Lewis. The equipment used by the students is none too shabby, including the £995-a-pop Kenwood Cooking Chef with which you can whisk eggs, cook stews and look sexier than Nigella*.
The school’s staff have a decent pedigree too: Course Manager Gordon McDermott is an ex-TV chef who was Head Chef Teacher at Rick Steins’ Cookery School in Padstow and has cooked a birthday meal for the Queen. Head Pastry Chef James Campbell became Gary Rhodes’ Group Head Pastry Chef at just 24 years old and has worked with U2, Sting and Yoko Ono. We spoke to both and they came across as smart, polite and with a real passion for teaching.
We’re not sure if Her Majesty will be rocking up for lessons any time soon but there’s every chance quite a few of her loyal subjects will be. More information on the cookery school and the courses is available here.
* we may have made the last one up.
All photos by Franco Milazzo unless otherwise stated.
Curious fact: the largest Waitrose store is in Southend-on-Sea and is about three-quarters of the area of the Wembley Stadium pitch.