One of Hampshire’s premier country house hotels does cookery classes for adults and kids like no other.
The Kitchen, Chewton Glen
3 Chewton Farm Rd, Walkford, Christchurch BH23 5QL, England, UK
+44 1425 275341
In an era when chefs are TV personalities with rock-star reputations, cooking courses come camera-ready. Cookery courses in Hampshire have a leg up, because of the gorgeous setting of this county, on England’s southern coast — it’s one of my favourite areas of England, with beaches, rolling countryside and farms supplying fabulous ingredients. The Hampshire county seat of Winchester is only 45 minutes away from New Milton, where the cooking experience days at Chewton Glen have star quality in spades.
The cooking school classes at Chewton Glen, the luxury family-friendly country house hotel, take place at The Kitchen, a modern and light-filled restaurant and cookery space near the front gate of the hotel. I stayed at the hotel recently on a press visit. During my stay, I got a tour around the gleaming luxury of the Kitchen cookery school and greenhouse, before having lunch in the dining room.
Checking out the cookery school at Chewton Glen
From the cooking areas stocked with ranks of knives and cooking implements and the high-end Gaggenau appliances, each station entices you to dream of yourself instructing millions how to correctly whisk an egg. The class line-up encompasses wonderfully specific topics (gin-themed, raw & superfood, foraging) as well as ones you can put to use every week (seasonal entertaining, seafood).
The cooking experience that’s a party
I love the concept of their chef dinners. You can enjoy, say, Dinner with James Martin at exclusive 12-person events with matched wine and demonstrations. An overhead camera at the horseshoe-shaped chef’s table captures the techniques (just like those slickly produced TV cooking shows. You don’t miss a thing — no matter how much matched wine you’re drinking). I’d love to book one of these for a birthday or special occasion with friends, then after dinner walk up the path through the grounds to fall into a cloud-like bed.
Just a few steps away from the Kitchen main building is a greenhouse ready for its close-up. Children who attend the kids cookery courses go to the green house to see, smell and pick herbs that they will use in their dishes. On the other side of the glass partition from the classroom (the aromas can float over and tempt diners on the other side) is the casual dining room for The Kitchen café, where diners eat pizzas hot from the pizza oven, decadent burgers or heartier mains from the grill menu like pork tomahawk chop or roast south coast cod with spicy sausage. The concise kids menu features buttermilk halloumi, prosciutto and pineapple pizza, and doughnuts with vanilla ice cream.
A high-end yet grounded philosophy
We mustn’t forget the instructors themselves, especially James Martin, the British chef and television presenter (BBC’s Saturday Kitchen) who started his career at Chewton Glen. He shapes The Kitchen programme and does classes as well as dinner cooking experiences here. Pick up one of his cookbooks in the entryway. Visiting chefs include illustrious talent such as Daniele Turco, the executive chef from Venice’s Gritti Palace, who teaches cichetti (small bites). Among the “non-celebrity” courses are baking and chocolate and tea party favourites and puddings and seafood and gluten-free and Chewton Glen favourites and and and… There’s such a variety you could come back every month for a year and not get through them all.
There’s so much to choose from here but all the while it feels grounded. The Kitchen itself is integrated with its surroundings not just architecturally but philosophically. The hotel’s gardens themselves provide all manner of ingredients for the hotel – from tea and infusions to kale. The staff exude enthusiasm, not arrogance.
The children’s cookery courses
The Kitchen is not afraid to give children a range of tastes and experiences – it’s not just fish fingers and burgers and other predictable fare. The sheer variety is adventurous and exciting. Budding young chefs can learn a variety of techniques, touching, tasting and feeling along the way. Classes are also graded according to age – something I know as a mother to teens that’s essential to keep them engaged. (It reminds them that while they might be too cool for school, they are not too cool for cookery school.)
A few of the things young cooks can learn to make:
- Tortellini & chocolate truffles
- Sushi & soufflés
- Savoury puffs & fresh fruit and cream pavlovas
- Creamy chicken masala and naan breads
Just think: Once your children do one or several of these courses, you can put them to work in the kitchen whipping up family meals. I promise you’ll thoroughly enjoy the fruits (as well as the veg and mains) of their labour.
Other things I love about Chewton Glen:
- The “we’re a family” vibe among staff isn’t just a slogan. It feels real in the way they interact with each other and guests
- Kids stay free throughout the school holidays (yes, during school holidays)
- Chewton Glen hotel offers abound, such as 4 nights for 3 and other packages throughout the year
- The Chewton Glen Tree Houses are a spectacular way to stay with family, in stunning accommodation with your own outdoor hot tub, leafy views and cool kids’ spaces. Look for a post on these luxury accommodations on Jenography.net soon.
Disclosure: Jenography visited Chewton Glen as a guest of the hotel, where her accommodation and meals were covered. All opinions are her own.
Have you visited Chewton Glen? What type of kids (or adults) cookery course do you fancy?