It seems another world; I was working a short term contract in Derby last winter and the highlight of my week was an evening cookery course. About filleting fish. I left the office as early as I could, given the journey ahead and the forecast snow. The address was plugged into the sat nav, and there were various routes, given that I was heading into deepest Derbyshire. Tideswell is a pretty village in pretty countryside that had me peering in awe from the car, through the dark and the snow. A call to the receptionist at the Tideswell School of Food reassured me about the journey, and not to worry about my impending lateness. I arrived to a warm welcome from her, the class tutor Joe Hunt and my new class mates. The facilities are exceptional, a fully equipped yet compact preparation and cooking unit for everybody, all the ingredients prepared as necessary, everything professional and tidy.
Together we filleted mackerel and plaice, some with more success than others, but at the end of it all everything was delicious (no matter how it looked). We got to take our dishes of grilled mackerel with grain mustard and new potato salad, and fried plaice goujons home, which fed me for two nights – that alone was worth the moderate course fee of £35. And I had a great time, and learnt a great deal.
Not only is it an excellent place, but the Tideswell School of Food is part of the Taste Tideswell project, a community led social enterprise that strives to revive the local economy by employing local people, supporting the local retailers and providing food education to people of all ages. They engage with local school children and have a community kitchen garden.
And I loved Joe’s teaching style. We kept in touch and I’m delighted that I’ve managed to entice him down to Puglia this October to teach at our Kitchen Skills Course. He’s laid back and entertaining, and he knows stuff, and has the patience to share it with you – all with a sense of humour. We’re having great fund designing the course together, and I know that we and our guests will have a fantastic week.