I often think that I’ll look back on this time in life as ‘the swimming lesson years’, when weekends and sometimes holidays were given over to trying to get our kids confident in the water. A similar struggle is the one to get them confident on a bike, with many a Saturday afternoon spent watching wobbly wheels going up and down the alley. While there’s no doubt that these are important skills, there’s another one that we don’t focus on as much as we should: learning to cook. We do a bit here and there, but it’s generally pretty fraught and always very messy. So we jumped at the invitation to attend the first parent and child class at the new Cookery School at The Grand.
What is it?
The Cookery School at The Grand is a brand new cookery school based at The Grand Hotel & Spa, right in the Centre of York, and it has all the five star sparkle of the hotel itself. Beautifully designed and kitted out with high spec equipment (including those amazing ovens you might recognize from Bake Off), it’s the teaching kitchen of dreams. There’s a wide variety of courses on offer – from bread and pastry to fish and chips, curry night and perfect pasta. But we were there to see how the parent and child course worked, so our eldest girl and I donned our (stylish, branded) aprons and got stuck in.
A warm welcome from the friendly Cookery School team instantly calmed any anxieties that the parents had about letting their children loose in such a beautiful kitchen. Armed with a delicious hot drink (fresh juice for the kids) and homemade biscuit or two, we took a seat at the demo kitchen to find out what was on the menu: meatballs! Bonus – that’s one of the rare dishes that ALL of my children will eat!
First up, head tutor Andrew demonstrated how to make the meatballs, talking us through each step and answering all of our many questions. He had lots of really useful tips and, as a fairly confident cook myself, I was surprised how much I learned. As a father himself, Andrew’s also full of practical ideas for cutting the time and stress of producing great meals without a fuss.
Demo over, it was time for us to get cooking! Waiting for each parent and child at their cooking station was an apron each and, amazingly, a set of ingredients that had been PRE-WEIGHED and PRE-CHOPPED! Taking the boring prep out of the equation meant that we could focus on the fun stuff: mixing it together, rolling out the meatballs and frying them. My daughter got a kick out of using the hob for the first time, turning over the sizzling meatballs and smelling the beautiful flavours. We were both delighted that the Cookery School team took care of all the clearing up so we didn’t have to think about the mess. Then it was time for a quick demo of how to knock together the tomato sauce and pasta before we were let loose at making our own. Before long, we had three pans sizzling and bubbling away with what was set to become our tea.
Once everything was cooked, we were all handed warmed places so that we could dish up our creation and take it through to the lovely communal dining area to eat together. My girl just about managed to stop herself from licking the plate clean, but it was a close call. All the children looked so pleased to have made something so delicious and were even more delighted to hear that they could take their leftovers home (we had two boxes!). It was was topped off with a gorgeous vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce each, made by The Cookery School staff. We headed off, aprons, recipe packs and leftovers in hand, very happy after a lovely afternoon: we’d learned lots, created something wonderful and had a really lovely experience together with no interruptions, no screens and no washing up! We will be back – my daughter is insisting on it.
The Cookery School at The Grand, York – Station Rise, York YO1 6GD – thegrandyork.co.uk/cookery-school
Thank you to The Cookery School at The Grand for inviting us along. As always we will only recommend something we have genuinely enjoyed