I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who is able to go “off recipe”. Like my mum who can look at the list of ingredients for a cake and be like: “well, I don’t have eggs, flour or sugar, but I can substitute it with random stuff in the cupboard and it will taste even better”. It’s sorcery.
Meanwhile, I’m there following every single step and my Victoria sponge turns into a sort of wet batter that’s raw on the inside and burnt on the outside and definitely not suitable to serve myself, let alone anyone else. The only thing for it? Cookery classes. I once went on a tapas cookery course at Lucknam Park and it literally changed my life. Not least because I was told how to chop an onion properly. So here are some top London cooking courses to brush up your skills.
If don't how to julienne a carrot or blanch a broccoli, start from the very beginning with the Leith's Absolute Beginners: Online Course.
1. Leith’s cookery courses to transform beginners to chefs
If you’re going to start anywhere, it should be with Leith’s. They are the crème de la crème of cooking courses. They offer everything from seriously fancy cake decorating and pâtisserie to courses on basic culinary techniques. They have great kitchens, a whole list of fabulous professionals as alumni and they never dumb down their teachings. So you really are working with the best.
If you don’t how to julienne a carrot or blanch a broccoli, start from the very beginning with the Leith’s Absolute Beginners: Online Course. Learn some well-loved recipes designed for those with little to no experience in the kitchen. It’s a great place to start. You’ll be picking up your Leith’s diploma in no time.
Where: Online and at 16-20 Wendell Road, W12 9RT
2. Eataly Italian courses
Dying to know how to bake the bounciest focaccia? Or whip up fresh pasta? Or perhaps even perfect your risotto so it doesn’t look like stale porridge? Well, your time has come. Eataly is helping the whole of London reach peak perfection in Italian cooking. From simple skills to advanced recipes, chefs will walk you through the steps to become an Italian kitchen yoda. What’s more, they’ll serve up a glass of wine for you to enjoy while you do it. Now that’s my kind of cooking.
Where: 135 Bishopsgate, EC2M 3YD
Whip up a lamb Rogan Josh and wash it down with some beers
3. Waitrose cookery courses for kitchen classics
Waitrose is the bane of my life. You go in to buy one item and come out with ten, including cured meats, roasted peppers in truffle oil, and seaweed slices. All things I definitely didn’t know I needed. Now you can come out with cooking classes too. Spend an evening in one of their London cookery schools perfecting the art of cheffing. It’s also just a great night out. You can try boiling up a lamb Rogan Josh and enjoy some beers to wash it down, or a Sri Lankan seafood feast, or simply perfect your knife skills (say good bye to slicing your thumbs on a daily basis). Or why not satisfy your sweet tooth with a chocolate eclair masterclass. Yes please.
Where: 199 Finchley Road, Goldhurst Terrace, NW3 6NN; and Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BZ
4. Dusty Knuckle bakery courses
If you’ve had a Dusty Knuckle loaf before, you’ll know what we’re talking about when we say their bread is the best bread in London. Soft in the middle, crispy on the outside, their loaves have built up a cult following in the trendy east side of London. And they’re willing to share their secrets. So if you missed the lockdown boat of producing sourdough at a commercial scale, don’t worry – now’s your chance. They cover everything from a simple introduction to yeasts and proving to getting the best rise in your croissant or puff pastry.
Where: Abbot Street Car Park, Dalston, E8 3DP
You'll learn secret family recipes from all over the world
5. Migrateful classes taught by expert refugee chefs
Migrateful run cookery classes led by migrant and refugee chefs. Their mission is to empower and celebrate chefs on their journey to employment and independence, one recipe at a time. The diverse mix of teachers means you’ll be learning secret family recipes from all over the world – Angola, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Morocco…. and that’s not even the start of it. You’ll learn new skills, be part of a welcoming community and have the chance to meet people and share culture. This is so much more than cooking.
Where: Online or at All Saints Church, 7 Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QS
6. Jamie Oliver’s cookery classes
We’ve found some seriously pukka classes from Jamie Oliver – the chef that everyone loves. Or loves to hate. You can choose from more than 30 in-person or online classes, ranging from speedy 60-minute sessions to full-day courses. Sharpen your knife skills, learn how to fire up pizza like a pro, de-bone a fish, roast a pork belly or even perfect your beef Wellington. Just an FYI, the picture here is slightly misleading. You won’t actually be taught by Jamie himself…
Where: Online or at Benwell House, 15-21 Benwell Road, Islington, N7 7BL
7. Le Cordon Bleu courses for pros
So you think you know your stuff. You can chop a cucumber as quickly as they do on Master Chef? Well, there are courses for people like you and they’re at London’s finest cooking establishment – Le Cordon Bleu. It is part of one of the largest networks of culinary and hospitality schools in the world with more than 35 institutes in 20 countries. Here you can do beginner courses to liven up you dinner party skills or splash out on a £5k three-week intensive summer course. There will be cheese tasting, wine tasting, visits to London’s finest food markets, interactive workshops on seasonal dishes, breads, desserts – you name it, they’ve got it covered. It’ll be money well spent.
Where: 15 Bloomsbury Square, Holborn, WC1 A2LS
8. Yuki’s Kitchen Japanese cooking classes
If, like me, you eat sushi like a fish drinks water, then Yuki’s Kitchen is one place you definitely want to be. This is one of the best places in London to learn how to make authentic Japanese dishes. From ramen to sushi, to gyozas, everything you could possible want to devour is on the menu here. You can choose between online courses or in-person courses at Yuki’s Kitchen in Crystal Palace. Learn how to make your own miso, find out what ichiju sansai is, or whip up your first batch of tempura.
Where: 21 Harold Road, Crystal Palace, SE19 3PU
9. London Vegetarian and Vegan School
Next to London Bridge, is a cooking school dedicated just to vegans and vegetarians. From entry level to advanced, try your hand at some meat-free classes with expert tutorials. You’ll learn the intricate detail around olive oil grades, prepping onions, how salt and sugar affect taste… basically you’ll transform into Heston Blumenthal in a matter of hours. The classes still include the classics from pasta making to curries to Lebanese flavours.
Where: Dundee Court, 217 Long Lane, Southwark, SE1 4PA
10. The Avenue Cookery School’s proper pudding class
And finally, something for the sweet tooth. The Avenue Cookery School is teaching people how to master some delectable puds to finish off a delicious lunch or dinner with. You’ll learn how to perfect three delicious desserts that will hit the sweet spot every time. In three hours, you’ll serve up lemon and almond torte, passion fruit meringue pie, and soft-centred chocolate pot. If that doesn’t impress people at your next dinner party, we don’t know what will.
Where: The Avenue Cookery School, 3 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth, SW18 1FZ