After the year we’ve had, it might seem like a mad idea (Ted) to investigate the benefits of cookery schools, but you would do well to remember that in 2020 you spent more amateur-hour time in the kitchen than in the office, so why not extend and expand your knowledge of lean cuisine and yummy gourmet foods? Listed are our favourites, but please be advised that some cookery schools are closed due to Covid-19. A quick email/phone call (details on respective websites) will provide up-to-date information. In the meantime? Dig in.
DINGLE COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: Awarded Best Cookery School in Ireland 2019 (by Food Awards Ireland) and Culinary Experience of the Year 2020 (by Travel & Hospitality Awards), the classes undertaken at Dingle Cookery School are based on the belief that learning to cook is one of life’s best experiences. Overlooking Dingle Bay and overseen by chef Mark Murphy and hospitality manager Muireann Nic Giolla Ruaidh, the prize class here has to be ‘Catch and Cook’, which involves a trip on a fishing boat, the catching of fish, and then returning to the kitchens where you learn how to prepare and cook it. And eat it – but you don’t need to learn that, do you?
Where: An Choill, Dingle, County Kerry.
Further Details: www.dinglecookeryschool.com
BALLYMALOE COOKERY SCHOOL, ORGANIC FARM & GARDENS
What’s Cooking: The most famous cookery school in Ireland, if not Europe, is located in a beautiful spot, but that’s not the USP. For that, we need to point you to the fact that ‘Ballymaloe’ (as it is always shortened to) has been at the forefront of exemplary culinary education for almost 40 years. From its inception in 1983, many well-known food producers, food writers and chefs have used the school’s 12 Week Certificate as a stepping stone to further their careers. Shorter courses are, of course, offered – from half-day to one week and one month. The key to its enduring success? Professionalism, dedication, skill and – look at the name of its website – enjoyment.
Where: Shanagarry, County Cork.
Further Details: www.cookingisfun.ie
THE NEVEN MAGUIRE COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: You can’t miss this one – it’s joined to the hip of Maguire’s MacNean House & Restaurant. Open since 2014, this is a contemporary state-of-the-art cookery school that caters (see what we did there?) for numerous levels of skill. Class sizes are deliberately compact so that individual tutoring can take place. Classes include demonstrations by Neven and get-your-hands-dirty food-preparing sessions under the watchful eyes of Neven and his skilled team.
Where: Blacklion, County Cavan.
Further Details: www.nevenmaguire.com
BALLYKNOCKEN HOUSE & COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: Set in the ‘garden of Ireland’ and located in a fine Victorian farmhouse, proprietor/chef Catherine Fulvio is as well-known from her many television appearances (and TV shows) as her cooking. Offering a cookery school choice for the committed (residential), enthusiastic amateur (weekend) and merely curious (day), this award-winning school (and intuitive principal!) teaches its students the value of participation, the immersion in the craft of cooking, and the pleasure of the results.
Where: Glenealy,Ashford, County Wicklow.
Further Details: www.ballyknocken.ie
THE TANNERY COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: The first thing to say is kudos to the designers of this bright, airy, sizeable, contemporary and customised space. Coincidentally, the designers are the owners, Paul and Máire Flynn, who opened the cookery school in 2008 (the aligned restaurant and townhouse opened, respectively, in 1997 and 2005). Up to 14 people can be accommodated for practical classes, with that figure doubling for cookery demos. Guest tutors pop up on a regular basis, and the vibe here is a mixture of information, education, grounded guidance, and fun – from wannabe Michelin stars to casual enthusiasts, all are welcome to concoct and cook.
Where: 10 Quay Street, Dungarvan, Country Waterford.
Further Details: www.tannery.ie
DUNBRODY COUNTRY HOUSE & COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: When he isn’t delivering his skills via the medium of Instagram, chef Kevin Dundon is presenting his knowledge of every aspect of cooking in his converted Georgian manor house. This is an exceptionally smart cookery school designed to offer its wares to all levels of interest. Dundon’s one-on-one tuition engenders a firm practical sense of getting to know what best suits your skillsets, and the fact there is onsite accommodation seals the deal for those that wish to mix guided instruction with dollops of indulgence.
Where: Mersheen,Arthurstown, County Wexford.
Further Details: www.dunbrodyhouse.com
ANIAR BOUTIQUE COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: Fronted and presided over by chef JP McMahon, this does exactly what it says on the biscuit tin. Sized to six participants (hence the ‘boutique’ label), this is as hands-on as it can get. McMahon is rightly acclaimed as being immensely passionate about enlightening everyone about food, its provenance, understanding its whys and wherefores, and you get that, too, when you sign on for classes as infotaining (yes, that is a word) as Gastropub Classics, Introduction To Japanese Cooking, Tapas At Home, and the class we should all attend, How To Be A Better Cook.
Where: 53 Lower Dominick Street,Galway.
Further Details: www.aniarrestaurant.ie
HOWTH CASTLE COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: An historic Georgian kitchen? Learning new cuisine skills in a no-pressure atmosphere? Cooking alongside seasoned and professional chefs so that any query you have will be answered in double-quick time? The Howth Castle Cookery School is a fingers-ready, hands-on learning experience that offers various types of classes. Our favourite is the Excursion Experience: a full-day class that includes fish-catching or a visit to fishmongers, and subsequently exercises in cooking, eating, making merry.
Where: Howth Castle, Howth, County Dublin.
Further Details: www.howthcastlecookeryschool.ie
KINSALE GOURMET ACADEMY
What’s Cooking: With this beautiful County Cork town being the verifiable gourmet capital of Ireland, it’s no surprise that this unique cookery school has got what it takes to introduce people to the delights of gourmet cuisine. With an emphasis on sourcing produce from a multitude of West Cork artisan food producers, the Academy’s think-local-act-global reasoning goes a long way to generating its primary philosophy of ‘gourmet made simple’.
Where: Ballinacurra House, Kinsale, County Cork.
Further Details: www.kinsalegourmetacademy.com
DUBLIN COOKERY SCHOOL
What’s Cooking: What’s cooking? That’s a very good question, and it is easily answered by Lynda Booth, an immensely experienced chef who opened Dublin Cookery School in 2007. What was once a 3,000sq ft warehouse is now a spacious, borderless food lab that has twice nabbed a Best Irish Cookery School Award (2013 and 2015). An authentic collaborative approach and Lynda’s love of global foods makes this one special.
Where: 2 Brookfield Terrace, Blackrock, County Dublin.
Further Details: www.dublincookeryschool.ie
WRITTEN BY TONY CLAYTON-LEA