Chewton Glen The Kitchen Cookery School

The Kitchen at Chewton Glen by James Martin - Cookery School

Food and Travel Review

Food and Travel review November 2017

‘Never trust a skinny chef. If the whites aren’t tight, the food’s not right,’ proclaims Dave Boland, my tutor for the afternoon. It’s the first of many pearls of wisdom he dispenses during his Morocco to the Middle East course at The Kitchen at Chewton Glen. As a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and with 37 years lecturing at Bournemouth College under his apron, Dave isn’t short of experience. ‘Even my kids call me “Chef”,’ he says with a twinkle.

This brand-new school is overseen by Rob Cottam and was developed in conjunction with James Martin, who honed his craft at this gorgeous hotel during his twenties. Every detail has been finished to high specification. Contemporary copper light fittings gleam over surfaces painted in shades of Farrow and Ball, every student is given the use of an iPad to access the recipes, while French doors open on to a flourishing kitchen and herb garden.

First up for this Moroccan feast are fragrant chickpea flatbreads, which Boland tells us cook well from frozen. We combine bread dough with crushed chickpeas, toasted cumin and fresh coriander, before kneading, rolling out into ovals and baking for ten minutes.

They are the perfect accompaniment to the main dish of the day: pan-fried sea bream with harissa and rose sauce. After marinating the fish in harissa, we fry the onions and combine them with more harissa, red wine vinegar, cinnamon, honey and a few drops of rose water. While it’s cooking, the smell transports me straight to a Marrakech riad. ‘When frying, the oil should be so hot it has a blue haze over it,’ Boland says. ‘Do the bulk of the cooking on the skin side to make it crispy, then take the pan off the heat and cook the other side.’ Sprinkled with rose petals, it’s a dinner party showstopper.

Dave’s years of experience trip off his tongue in the form of practical tips. Never season meat before cooking, as salt sucks the moisture out; dry butternut squash seeds on a radiator before browning them in the oven and then drizzle with honey and cinnamon for a quick snack; older egg whites give meringues a better finish; and soak aubergines in milk to remove their bitterness.

Next up is a flourless chocolate pistachio cake. We beat sugar into four egg whites until they are stable enough to stand in snowy peaks, before combining them with melted dark chocolate, ground pistachios and butter. ‘Remember to tap the bottom of the tin to force the air bubbles to the top.’ Finally, 800g of Valrhona dark chocolate combined with butter is quite literally the icing on the cake, while a dollop of whipped cream with honey and a little orange blossom water is the proverbial cherry on top.

A full-day Morocco to the Middle East course costs £175.

Our Specialities

What you can learn at our cookery school

  • Celebrity Chef
  • Children's Courses
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Global Cuisines
  • Pastry, Cakes and Puddings

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