Leiths School of Food and Wine
16-20 Wendell Road , London, Greater London, W12 9RT
0208 749 6400 | www.leiths.com
- Advanced Chef Skills
- Canapés & Dinner Parties
- Celebrity Chef
- Knife Skills
- Pastry, Cakes and Puddings
Leiths School of Food and Wine is a leading London cookery school for both professional and amateur cooks. Leiths run a number of one day and classes from baking, pastry and knife skills workshops, to Thai, Middle Eastern, or Japanese Cuisine. Other classes include one week courses, Saturday morning classes and evening drinks or cookery classes. There are classes to suit all levels of abilities and timings. For those looking for a career in cookery Leiths offer a range of professional courses ranging from 10 weeks to one year. Come to Leiths and leave with all the essential skills and confidence necessary to be a culinary success.
Food and Travel Review
Gizzi Erskine, Lorraine Pascale and Florence Knight: Leiths School of Food and Wine has a star-studded list of alumni, and this year will celebrate 40 years of setting the standard in culinary tuition. The UK dining scene would just not be the same without it. But it doesn’t only cater for budding professionals, because it also shows ‘enthusiasts’ the ropes and teaches individual skills for the casual cook. Which bodes well for me, as I sign up for a two and a half hour class to tackle the notoriously tricky macaron.
Any notion that this will be beyond my rudimentary baking skills is dispelled quickly by our group’s instructor, Maxine, who demonstrates how simple these little wonders actually are to make (for her, at least). Having paid the utmost attention, it is now time for our 16-strong class to split into two groups; each heads to their own kitchen, where all the ingredients and equipment are waiting. The display of food dyes on show says more chemist’s lab than the soft pastels of a Parisian patisserie.
Since we are going to be making four different flavours of macaron, our groups are divided again. I plump for pistachio, sadly leaving behind the option of doing passion fruit, raspberry or chocolate. Because the recipe for the ‘cake’ part of the macaron is essentially the same regardless of flavour, we follow the same steps. One piece of advice: when it comes to colouring, you invariably need more dye than you think. I add another few drips of green colouring to turn mine to an approximation of AstroTurf.
The atmosphere in the kitchen is jovial and relaxed, though it’s clear everyone is here to learn and work; not just for play. While novices are catered for and talked through each procedure, it’s certainly for cooks with a degree of baking confidence. Familiarity with a piping bag, working with hot sugar and knowing your way around a bain-marie to melt chocolate are all prerequisites if you want any chance of replicating the macarons at home.
Obviously, a school like Leiths isn’t just about puddings. A range of cuisine-specific courses is on offer, from guest chefs like Atul Kochhar (Indian), Martin Morales (Peruvian) and Omar Allibhoy (tapas), and classes such as these cost £145. One- to three-week courses also cater for the home cook, running as evening or full-day lessons. More expensive, these all-encompassing packages start at £405, going up to £1,600 for the Intermediate Cooking Skills course, ideal for the cook who wants to progress and experiment, but not do the washing up or have to tidy their kitchen.
The final act for my macarons is to pipe in the filling; a mix of melted white chocolate and, in my case, double cream and pistachio paste, before putting everything together as a sandwich. I’m surprised at my success. They are as pretty as a picture. Sadly how good they look won’t save them – they will be demolished eagerly on the journey home. AA. £95.