Once the world’s largest carpet factory, Dean Clough Mills is no stranger to being a hive of activity which makes it’s the perfect home for The Cooking School at Dean Clough. All year round there’s something exciting going on at The Cooking School including cookery courses, product launches, young chefs competitions and masterclasses for its apprentice chefs.
Week in week out, their programme of leisure courses are taught by their team of expert chefs (and guest chefs) in everything from artisan bread making to sushi, all aimed at food lovers keen to learn or improve their skills.
*Nurturing young talent!*
But as well as catering for those who like cooking in their spare time, The Cooking School is now into it’s 2nd year of apprenticeship schemes, nurturing young chefs and providing them with the skills they need to work within the industry.
Working with businesses in the surrounding West Yorkshire to as far afield as Manchester and North Yorkshire, The Cooking School’s apprenticeship scheme aims to provide a bespoke service matching the individual strengths, goals and personalities of the apprentices with a restaurant, pub, hotel or hospitality venue that suits them.
While colleges around the region offer similar apprenticeships, The Cooking School at Dean Clough is purely focused on cookery and hospitality, offering a specialist service and state of the art facilities.
Rachel Shaw, Marketing Manager at The Cooking School says: “When our apprentices join us we start them with a 2 week placement in our own café. This helps us get to know their personalities, what they like doing and their skill level so we can best match them to an apprentice placement”.
Once a month the young chefs come together in the purpose built facilities at The Cooking School to learn specialist skills such as fish filleting that will allow them to progress further within their apprenticeship placement.
Two years in they’ve seen 50 apprentices come through the cookery school for training and they’ve found that their approach to matching apprentices to businesses has created numerous success stories. In addition the School won Britain’s Best Small Cooking School Award in 2013 for its apprenticeship programme.
One of The Cooking School’s apprenticeship success stories is Leon, a chef with a flair for demonstrating cookery. Having trained at The Cooking School, his new skills opened up various opportunities for him including a stint in Glasgow over the summer working on The Cooking Bus at the Commonwealth Games. Now he has completed his apprenticeship and from January 2015 he will be working on one of the charity’s Cooking Buses demonstrating to school cooks and caterer as part of the School Food Plan which aims to increase the number of children having school dinners.
*Keeping things local!*
In the early days The Cooking School ran courses with celebrity chefs including James Martin and Rosemary Shrager as well as local chefs including Salvo’s in Leeds and The Boxtree in Ilkley which were extremely popular,. Nowadays they find their leisure course customers are most excited to learn from those cooking personalities who live a little closer to home. For example Kaushy Patel from vegetarian Indian eatery Prashad and Eric Paxman, owner and chef at Eric’s Restaurant in Huddersfield.
Having been members of Deliciouslyorkshire since they opened, The Cooking School is proud of it’s Yorkshire roots. Being based in Yorkshire is very important for The Cooking School. Not only does it’s central location mean The Cooking School attracts customers from all around the UK, who favour the region’s excellent transport links and top quality hotels and guest houses but also Yorkshire’s vast and varied landscape means that much of the produce used in the cooking school can be sourced from Yorkshire, making everything taste just that little bit better!