It’s now August 2018 and Station House Cookery School is fully operational. In the latest Blog written for DGWGO Station House Owner Nick Morris tells us what a whirl-wind couple of months it’s been!
Nick Says “The opening weekend was a great success, the cookery demonstrations went well and the refurbishment of Station House was a great talking point. Then the really hard work began.
I had to get a handle on what type of classes were going to be the most popular and suit people’s schedules the best. I had a strategy of releasing different types of classes to give people a choice. For example, I planned short ‘Demonstration Only’ tasters. This means you sit in comfort in our demonstration room with your recipes and factsheets and watch the demonstration. You are able to ask questions, interact and even come to the bench to smell and taste what’s cooking. We have installed an angled mirror and a camera link to a TV screen to make sure you don’t miss anything. Then at the end of the demo tasters are sent out and you get to sample what has been prepared. This model works well with those who are maybe short on time or who want the interactive experience without the actual ‘cooking’.
Then we have the ‘Half Day Class’. This is a longer half day session where you are talked through your recipes over a cup of coffee and then get straight into the kitchens yourself to do the cooking under the guidance of your tutor. All your ingredients and utensils are supplied so you don’t need to bring anything with you apart from comfy shoes! This class is a better one for those who are looking for more of a real learning experience. There’s no doubt that actually being in the kitchens and doing it yourself is a better way to really understand the processes and techniques which make up great cookery. After the session is over you get to sit down and eat what you have prepared with your fellow students and discuss the day’s class. A very social, entertaining and educational experience.”
Nick Continued “Then we have our full day class. This includes a full three hour demonstration and then the practical experience followed by your meal. This format works very well for the more in-depth classes or the slightly more technical subjects such as bread baking. It gives you time to reflect on what you have learned in the demonstration and then to put it into practice in the kitchens.
I also released a variety of subjects to see what most people would be interested in. Certainly the ‘cuisine’ based classes are popular, Indian, Thai, Italian and the upcoming Ukrainian Cookery classes are all well attended. It’s been nice to see that classes focusing on the more traditional skills such as bread baking, pastry and fresh pasta making are attracting interest as well. It’s those types of skills which are being slowly forgotten that I feel should be kept alive. It’s always so satisfying when students finish the class having achieved what they thought was beyond them at the beginning. And finally, a very popular class has proved to be our vegetarian and vegan half days. There is an increasing interest nationally in this type of cookery and it is certainly showing in the classes we run.”
Nick Also said “Another way I’m gaining information about what people want in their cookery classes is to offer ‘Bespoke’ sessions. This means if you get a group of just four people together you can say what type of class you would like to have, the length of it and even what time of day. We are taking a lot of bookings in this format with people creating their own social events, a unique birthday party experience.
And of course, we have classes for children and teenagers. I feel very strongly about teaching children to cook. It’s a basic life skill which will help them so much in later life. If you can cook you will live more healthily and more economically. Simple. But it should also be fun. We make our children’s classes really interactive and entertaining so they see cooking as a positive experience from a young age.
It’s also been very rewarding to get out and about doing demonstrations at the fairs and festivals around Dumfries and Galloway. Two of the best were the Kirkcudbright Country Show and also the Dumfries Show. It’s a great way to meet the public, especially those who might not have thought to attend a cookery demonstration and get to see how much fun they can be.”
Nick Added “And so now we start looking towards our Autumn season. We have some great events booked in already. The Kirkcudbright Food Festival is in October and we are supporting by putting on a range of discounted cookery demonstrations. As there is so much going on with the festival we are keeping them shorter and getting in some guests to participate in ‘Saturday Kitchen’ style events.
There is also the brand new Festival of Light coming to Kirkcudbright in October. I was asked by the organisers to do something special for the event connecting Food and Light! So I am focusing in on the Hindu Festival of Light ‘Divali’. We are planning cookery demonstrations based on the types of celebration dishes eaten during the festival and we are also having an Indian Set Menu evening showcasing the types of dishes we do in our classes.
And believe it or not we are also planning out our Christmas programme. We have already had enquiries about what type of Christmas Cookery Classes we will have running so I am planning the dates and times for those right now. We need to be organised well in advance as people can buy Cookery Class Vouchers as Christmas presents which are very popular.”
Nick rounded off by saying “So that’s where I am right now. From Ukraine to Kirkcudbright and Station House Cookery School is up and running. It’s been an incredible journey to get here and I feel that I am now on the starting line. I have another 25 years ahead of me to achieve everything I want to and I have a feeling it’s going to be quite a ride.
Do you want to join me for some of it?“
To find out more or to book a lesson click HERE or Phone 07493 242792