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is cooking an art or a science? no, it’s passion and instinct  

Food of Course

BBC Good Food Magazine

Food of Course featured as Cookery School of the month in the Good Food magazine published by the BBC. You can read the article in full below.

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The penultimate morning of the fourth and final week of Lou Hutton’s Foundation Cookery Course has arrived.  At 21, Ione is the youngest of the group and slightly nervous. She’s about to become a chalet cook and she’s worried about cassis; she knows you can add it to red cabbage, but what else might you use it for?   Gently, her teacher enlightens her. "When you’re in France," she suggests, "just ask for a Kir Royale." The others chorus cheerful approval of the classic combination of a dash of blackcurrant liqueur and sparkling wine. Fellow student Naomi tells her not to worry that it might be expensive. "You take then your cookies, babe, and you’ll never pay for a drink."

"The students are sitting, as they always do at this time, around a big table to the roomy, flagged kitchen, deconstructing last night’s supper.  Although radically different in every way, the six women have become friends, firmly bonded in the great endeavour that will, they hope, turn them into proper professional cooks.

This is no place for an idle, gap-year time waster.  It is an intensive course - huge fun, clearly, but also hard, exhausting work. Each student is at a turning-point in their life. Nicola, made unexpectedly redundant from a secretarial post, hopes to embark upon a brand new career;  Harriet chose to leave her high-powered banking job in New York to start her own catering company. Kate, a calm and competent beauty (with marvellous, instinctive culinary skills) is taking a much-needed break from her "proper" job in a London auction house;  Amy, the eldest at 53, has been what she terms "a business wife" for 30 years. Now, her newly retired husband is off to study painting in Florence. As their children are virtually fledged, she is going too, hoping to supplement their income with her cooking.

The place revolves around and depends upon the charisma of its founder, Lou Hutton, supported enthusiastically by her charming husband, Roger. A friendly, generous woman of remarkable energy and great personal charm, Lou has been cooking and teaching for 15 years.

Her lessons are spiced with tips which will ring in her graduates’ ears for decades: "Don’t sift the flour; put it in a bowl and use a whisk", "Put the rolling pin in the fridge along with the pastry dough", and the very sensible "If you
possibly can, always avoid telling people what’s on the menu.   Then, if it all goes pear-shaped you can do a quick change and they’ll be none the wiser."

Her style is warm and inclusive, inspiring and, above all, practical.  She provides only the very best ingredients and she fosters a mutually co-operative, hands-on  approach, encouraging her students to learn from many sources.   During the course, the vast files she gives them are scribbled all over as each recipe is discussed, tried and, occasionally, varied – as in the time-honoured phrase "according to taste".
Naomi, streetwise and extrovert, knows precisely how to sum it up. Whatever happens here, "she announces, the one thing that has characterised this course is laughter, never recrimination.  Yes, that’s right, always laughter."
The four-week residential course costs £3,350. There are also one - and five-day courses.  

For details, contact

Food of Course, 
Middle Farm House, Sutton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset,
BA4 6QF,
01749 860116
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