The likelihood is that your earliest food memories will be of your mother’s cooking and food preparation. For me that was packed lunches for school, my favourite dinner of spaghetti bolognese and – growing up in a Jewish household – homemade chicken soup that could cure any lurgi. With an invitation to stay at our family favourite hotel, Chewton Glen, and an opportunity to try their new cookery school, my mum seemed the perfect plus one. And the course that we chose was an appropriate one – Food for the Family.
The Kitchen is a short walk or shuttle ride away from the main house located in a brand new and purpose built space. A pretty-barn like structure surrounded by gardens and animal sculptures, there’s no escaping the fact that you’re in the beautiful English countryside. It’s actually a collaboration with celebrity chef James Martin who oversees the cookery school, teaching classes himself and consulting on the menu with Chewton Glen’s Adam Hart and Luke Matthews.
Inside is a restaurant, it’s the more relaxed option for dining at Chewton Glen and you can order up burgers and pizzas whilst watching the chefs at work in the open kitchen. On the other side is the cookery school packed with state of the art equipment and fully staffed waiting for the day ahead. The day begins at 9.30am with pastries and coffee and getting to know the other attendees, by coincidence it’s a mother and her daughters who’d booked in for a relaxing couple of days at the hotel and some time together.
I’ve done a far few cookery classes in my time but this was the first time that I’d ever been given an iPad to follow the recipes with. My mum, being a huge fan of Apple products, was suitably impressed! We were introduced to Georgie Soskin, a chef dedicated to making nutritious family meals, especially for her own three young children. Along with her business partner, Jo Saunders, a Nutritional Therapist with three children herself they write the website and blog Cooking Them Healthy. I must say Georgie was the most wonderful teacher as not only was she incredibly knowledgable but she was lovely and personable too.
She started off by introducing us to some breakfast ideas and showed us some of the breakfast smoothies that she makes for her family. Georgie is very keen on using kefir, it’s actually a fermented milk drink – I’m sure you’re not sold yet – but she explained to us that’s high in nutrients, probiotics and healthy bacteria. It’s super beneficial for digestion and gut health and actually really rather easy to use at home plus cheaper than yoghurts as kefir grains can actually be reused. Still not sold? Well the smoothies that Georgie prepared were just as delicious as they were healthy!
She also prepared us a little bowl of nut butter porridge which is super for boosting the immune system and getting a healthy start. It actually tasted more like a dessert, and would be a great way to get kids to eat their oats in the morning.
Muffin’s may not exactly scream healthy eating but Georgie showed us how to make them as healthy as possible. She uses minimal sugar and instead sweetens with pear, raisins and maple syrup also using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter.
Next it was time to make our own muffins and my mum and I took to our stations where all the ingredients had been measured and laid out for us in advance. We each had a large working area, equipped with all the utensils that we might need, a state-of-the-art convection hob and an oven each.
The recipe was pretty simple and I mixed up all my ingredients and then spooned the mixture into individual cases.
Popping it in the oven and then 20 minutes later – voila cinnamon and pear breakfast muffins! These are also perfect for freezing and easy to whip out on busy mornings.
The final breakfast of eggy bread was actually inspired by Georgie’s time in Sri Lanka and a little tumeric is included for its anti-inflammatory properties to this protein-heavy brekkie.
For me, eggy bread actually brings back memories of hangover cure breakfasts at university so it’s great to know that one of my favourite stoggy fixes can be prepared in a healthy way.
Next we moved on to healthy lunches and Georgie show us how to make a fish curry with spinach and coconut. She packed the pan with healthy greens, cod, big prawns, a glug of coconut milk and more tumeric. It was seriously, seriously tasty and by far our favourite dish of the day – and best of all it’s super easy to make at home.
At this point I decided to take a break from the kitchen and head out to the garden. There’s a larger garden located here at Chewton Glen but this one just outside the cookery school also provides fruit, herbs and vegetables to the restaurant and cookery school.
It’s not wonder that the food tastes this good when it really is so very fresh.
As well as the garden is the Greenhouse. It’s been made bespoke by Alitex, a family run company based in Hampshire and has been designed to meet the hotel’s particular horticultural needs.
I had a little wander round and a sniff of my favourite herbs before heading back to the class to prepare the final few dishes of the day.
Georgie quickly showed us how to make a great vegetarian option of lentil shepherd’s pie before getting started on a demonstration for what would be our lunch for today.
The chicken satay with peanut butter sauce and green rice that we made were packed full of lean protein and good fats and once again super easy to make. Personally I’ve always loved cooking for myself and Mr S but as our schedules don’t always coordinate it’s great to have some speedy meals like this as an option.
I was again pretty proud of my creations and we all sat around the kitchen counter with a glass of wine to enjoy our lunch. It was really fun spending time with the other ladies at the class with one of the girls just finishing her A-Levels, the world was her oyster while the other was enjoying studying languages at university. Honestly, the class was super fun but it was Georgie and the other ladies who really took it to another level of enjoyment.
The final item on the list were energy bars, perfect for an after school snack and by that time it was 3.30pm but the whole day had sped by so quickly! Georgie and her assistants helped us pack up our creations to take home and on this day of fun, we weren’t expected to do the washing up! I’m seriously keen to return for another course and there’s plenty to choose from such as seasonal dinner party ideas, Asian cuisine, baking and chocolate classes as well as a whole host of classes focusing on healthy food. There’s James Martin’s own classes as well as classes in Venetian cookery with Daniele Turco who I met while I was staying at the Gritti Palace where he is head chef. There’s classes for children too!
A huge thank you to Chewton Glen for this day of fun – the perfect way to spend time with my mum, learn new things and meet some lovely people!
PIN FOR LATER:
On this occasion I was a guest of Chewton Glen but my thoughts are my own and I have many happy memories of this beautiful hotel,