Before any big-media even got their quills inked to review this new foodie destination, Loaf had the privilege to preview the hotly-anticipated Daylesford Organic Cookery School. Through the generosity of an old Uni chum, Loaf managed to wangle itself an invitation to the first trial day of the brand-spanking-new cookery school.
The cookery school has been 9 months in the making and is the brain child of Vladimir Niza, a passionate and extremely talented chef-nutritionist (and said Uni chum), who was senior tutor at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School until recently. Vladimir has expertly directed this project from it’s very inception and has taken care of every detail from floor (Cotswold-stone tiled), to ceiling (oak-beamed), and secured a bunch of sponsorship to boot.
The place is absolutely stunning (this iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice); a converted barn on the Daylesford Estate, adjoining the butchery and fishmonger, and adjacent to the restaurant and farm shop. Loaf saw it when it was an empty shell just 3 months prior: the architect, a co-pupil, threatened to get his own back on Vlad for the last two and a half months of stress in converting it to this! Strung-up onions adorn the walls, and wicker baskets full of herbs and cresses are always at our finger-tips. Infact a lot of the produce we use during the day was grown about 500yds away, as we discover on our lunchtime garden-tour with head gardener Jez. The place is packed with state of the art equipment, and has a nearly-complete library as an entrance lobby (next to the famous Daylesford cheddar maturing room), complete with shelves of normal books, and macbooks for guests to surf the net or do some research.
The food, of course, is stunning too. The twelve of us ‘guests’ pack out the room as Vladimir talks us through the ‘Seasonal Dinner Parties’ programme. We cook, or are demonstrated, gazpacho, salad nicoise, pan fried pollack with chorizo oil and borlottis, bean soup, roast shoulder of lamb, raspberry tart, summer berry crumble, and poached flat peaches. Everything breathes freshness, and the cooking and eating is interwoven with nuggets of Vladimir’s encyclopaedic knowledge – from the nutritional value of eggs to who invented custard (the English of course!). Vladimir is an enthusiastic and inspiring tutor – his eyes literally glint with passion. And for a moment he is able to make you believe that with a little guidance, you too can be a Michelin-starred Chef. Of course you can’t, but who cares, for a day it’s a great feeling!
The cookery school launches on the 17th of September. There’s an exciting programme of courses coming up – everything from Field to Fork to Classic English Cooking to Butchery. Much more information can be found on the cookery school website.