The Handbook
The Handbook

I’ve always thought of myself as quite the food connoisseur, quietly judging friends meals and casting a scrutinising eye over food brought to me at restaurants, so when the opportunity to attend a cooking course came up, I thought yes, my time to shine is here! I will create exquisite meals and be the envy of anyone lucky enough to sneak a glance at my marvellous creations. And it turned out that way. Sort of.

I headed down to the recently opened The Abinger Cookery School, (ah-bing-err) the evening before the course and was shown around the newly refurbished building which boasts two brand new kitchens, brand new bathrooms and newly decorated bedrooms. The facilities are state of the art but the deco of the bedrooms and living room space are cosy and relaxed with a quaint countryside feel to them. We settled down for the night in the marshmallow soft beds.

The day begins early (for a weekend) at 9.30am and a delicious, fresh breakfast is served to us. We must, after all, prepare our stomachs for the day of feasting and snacking ahead of us. The course officially begins when chef-slash-teacher Vinnie (former Times Chalet Chef of the year, Vincent Clist) gives us the health and safety speech including typical info such as where to bolt if things go awry and we end up setting something ablaze.

The ingredients are all prepared before-hand to save time and the recipes for the day are on the counter which you get to take home for the adventurous types who want to re-create the magic. We were doing the Cakes and Bakery course where we learned to make choux pastry for profiteroles, rough pastry for quiches (which we ate for lunch), carrot cake with orange zest icing, pumpkin and spelt bread, and the winner – salt caramel filled macaroons. Other courses available include BBQs (perfect for summer), Best of British and Seafood Secrets. The Abinger also offers two day and five day courses which are where the convenient location of the lovely rooms upstairs come into play.

We left The Abinger armed with a headful of cooking knowledge and armfuls of freshly made delicious food. The drive back to London led us through the pretty winding roads of Guildford before hitting the M25 straight back to the city. We recommend The Abinger for couples and friends, all the way up to larger groups like hen dos and birthdays. The world needs as much amazing food as possible and The Abinger is a great place to educate yourself on such tasks like the perfect way to pipe macaroons and toast almonds.