What’s on the menu for your next hol­i­day?

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - People & Places - ANDY LYNES

For some peo­ple, go­ing on hol­i­day means get­ting a break from cook­ing chores, but the food-ob­sessed are sim­ply trav­el­ling to their next kitchen. They make Airbnb choices based as much on the num­ber of burn­ers on the range cooker as the size of the bed­rooms. And when I say “they” I, of course, mean “me”. Hol­i­day ar­range­ments in my house­hold cen­tre on food and, self­ishly, op­por­tu­ni­ties for me to cook.

I’ve trav­elled far and wide to at­tend cook­ery school classes, from Mimo in San Se­bas­tian to the Chi­ang Mai Thai Cook­ery School, but this year I found some­where a lit­tle closer to home to in­dulge my culi­nary fetish. The Kitchen was launched in March this year in the grounds of Chew­ton Glen ho­tel in the New For­est in col­lab­o­ra­tion with James Martin, the tele­vi­sion chef.

When Martin ap­pears in the din­ing room in full chef re­galia, he’s stopped by table af­ter table for self­ies and au­to­graphs. He joins our group of 12 briefly to ex­plain how the session will work (he runs monthly classes; the rest of the sched­ule is filled by guest chefs such as Dan Do­herty and also cour­ses run by the school’s own tu­tors) and we’re given tablets with the recipes we’ll be cook­ing – scal­lops with ravi­oli and but­ter sauce and a straw­berry roulade.

We file through to the school and ex­plore our gleam­ing and welle­quipped work sta­tions, then take a stool at the cen­tral demon­stra­tion area where Martin holds court. He’s in se­ri­ous-head-chef mode, flash­ing ex­pen­sive knives and whip­ping up pasta dough in sec­onds.

The les­son is or­gan­ised into a se­ries of short demon­stra­tions and we’re soon back at our sta­tions, tip­ping ready-weighed flour and crack­ing eggs into our posh food mix­ers as Martin barks out re­minders of what we should be do­ing. The matey per­sona we’re all fa­mil­iar with from his decade fronting Satur­day

Kitchen is never far from the sur­face; he’s con­stantly crack­ing jokes and mak­ing en­cour­ag­ing noises.

“I know of 14 dif­fer­ent meth­ods to in­cor­po­rate sugar into meringue,” claims Martin, who thank­fully doesn’t demon­strate them all, but shows us what he calls “the chef ’s way to make a clas­sic cold meringue”, sep­a­rat­ing eggs by al­low­ing the white to fall through the fin­gers of one hand, leav­ing the yolk be­hind, then whisk­ing the whites to a firm fluffy cloud with the ad­di­tion of sugar. He flavours it with le­mon ver­bena (“the best herb in the world. End of ”) and spreads it onto a bak­ing tray lined with grease­proof pa­per that he’s snipped at the cor­ners so that it lies flat. “They don’t teach you that on

Bake Off do they?” he quips. I’m be­yond pleased when I man­age to fol­low Martin’s ex­am­ple to the let­ter, bak­ing the meringue to just the right shade of light brown, spread­ing it with straw­berry sauce and whipped cream and form­ing it into a Swiss roll with­out it crack­ing.

We learn how to roll the pasta, fill it with raw diced scal­lop, sauté more scal­lops (“What­ever time you think the fish takes, quar­ter it”) and make a sauce by cook­ing sliced shal­lots, gar­lic, white wine and fish stock to­gether and fin­ish­ing with but­ter, chopped chives and diced toma­toes. “That dish at The Waterside Inn in 1988 when I was there? £62 and that was back then,” says Martin, never one to miss the op­por­tu­nity to big up his CV.

We at­tempt our own ver­sions then carry them through to the din­ing room where Martin joins us. I’ve over-re­duced my sauce, but it’s de­li­cious nev­er­the­less. The les­son has over­run but Martin stays and chats and, as the class breaks up, in­stead of roar­ing off in one of his col­lec­tion of 20 clas­sic cars, Martin starts mak­ing din­ner in the restau­rant’s open kitchen.

At £350 a head for a cook­ery class or £500 a head for a cook­ery demo and din­ner, The Kitchen ex­pe­ri­ence is not cheap, but Martin is a big name and, if you’re a fan, you won’t feel short-changed. As I box up the roulade to take home to a grate­ful brood, I’m al­ready plan­ning our next cook­ing hol­i­day.

A morning or afternoon Cook with James Martin course at The Kitchen at Chew­ton Glen costs £350 (01425 275341; chew­ton­glen.com)

Read more by Andy at tele­graph.co.uk/tt-andy­lynes. Fol­low him @andy­lyne

Martin’s in se­ri­ous-head­chef mode, flash­ing knives and whip­ping up pasta dough in sec­onds

Cook­ing up a storm: chef James Martin

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