15 May 2014
Reviewed by Victoria Moore
This impressive family home is introducing a new world of appetising days in the form of Cooks the Carlton School of Food based in Carlton, Yorkshire.
The location is easy to find with road signage and a postcode that enables a satnav to take you straight there.
Arrival into the grand gated estate gives a clear indication of the delights forthcoming. The relaxed yet highly professional atmosphere enchants with a full day of pure relaxation and knowledge enhancement. Cooks is a historic location which is graciously growing back to its divine roots, and sharing it with all in a truly authentic way.
Course participants are warmly welcomed into the glorious and impressive home and shown through to the Housekeepers sitting room for a welcome, tea, introductions and overview of the day ahead. Kitted out with the essentials we ventured through the period building to the original Cooks kitchens.
The friendly, approachable and helpful manor of the course leader, Great British Bake Off finalist Brendan Lynch; is mirrored in the school’s course support staff and as these courses continue their prescience will be seamless.
Step by step we watched the well rehearsed hands on creation of the recipes, and then recreated them ourselves with constant support and advice, allowing plenty of time to ask any questions. This not only ensured we achieved the desired outcome, but also recognise the key mixing stages and changes in colour and consistency with assistance throughout to ensure successful bakes.
‘Preparation is key, have all your ingredients out before you start you bake.’
Brendan a charming leader, is happy to share stories, hints and tips gained from decades of culinary art experience. He has a wealth of knowledge that is effortlessly passed on, and tips on ingredients. Genuinely open to questions throughout the day (I really had never know what you’re supposed to do with Cream of Tarter). Brendan is perfectly placed at Cooks, as his Bake Off reputation for perfection sits comfortably around the superior standard of finish in the kitchens and a Duchess’ dining room with has been meticulously restored to its former glory and hosts course attendees and leader for a delectable lunch.
The sessions take you on a journey through the ingredients mirrored in the variety or rooms, lovingly restored to continue their legacy through the new school.
A timely stop for elevenses while the pastry chills and dough rises on the windowsill, accompanied by freshly baked melt in the mouth biscuits.
The smells in the room as the freshly created delights bake are enchanting and create a ‘real food’ atmosphere, as well as a longing to taste them!
In the breaks, casually relaxing with the other course participants came easy to us all, surprisingly there were no awkward silences or feelings of nerves that we all didn’t know one another, having a common focus let the chatter flow freely and a sense of comradery was formed as our bakes advanced.
Throughout the day all are made to feel very welcome and feel like Carlton Towers is a home away from home. I would love to think that one day I too have a walled garden that I can nip to for home grown seasonal produce.
My day at Cooks was a glorious escape from the everyday world, allowing the emersion of all ones senses into a period property and its restored authentic cooks kitchen. Leaving with the knowledge, skill and confidence to create a range of dinner party dishes along with their many variations.
If the future plans are finished to the same standard as the School of Food, Carlton Towers will secure its reputation as a jewel of Yorkshire. I certainly plan to return and keep up to date with the developments.
With the opening of Cooks it will swiftly be placed on the map as one of ‘The’ places to visit for a spectacular culinary experience.
I cannot recommend this enough, as a gift or just a treat for yourself you could do no better than a visit to cooks.
‘Today, amongst other culinary skills, what have a learnt to do? My dear I’ve learnt to choux! A challenge I’d been fearful of attempting before, I now adore. Roll on the profiteroles!’
For more information or to book a course visit www.cooksatcarlton.co.uk.
Cooks, Carlton Towers, Carlton, Yorkshire, DN14 9LZ | 01405 861662