This Sunday, across the UK, the nation’s fathers will wake up to another bottle of whisky for the booze cupboard, perhaps a pack of novelty golf tees or, if they’re very lucky, a new drill. Father’s Day is a tricky one – mainly because men of a dadly age don’t tend to be hugely interested in ‘stuff’ – and if they are indeed the ‘World’s Greatest Dad’, then a sloganned mug seems a woefully inadequate means of acknowledging the fact.
So what is the best way to celebrate dad this Sunday (17 June)? We might have a contender…
It’s a National Cookery School Guide gift card. It can be used to book classes at any of the top 50 schools in the UK (so there’s bound to be something nearish by), and – without wishing to imply that a father’s worth can be assigned a monetary value – you can spend as much money on it as you like.
Whether dad’s a Texan barbecue legend, a Michelin man in the making, or a chronic burner of soup, there’ll be a class that’ll butter his parsnips. There are hundreds of options available, so to make things a little easier and give dad some inspiration, we’ve picked five guaranteed dad-pleasers on the calendar in the next couple of months…
1. Low and Slow at London Barbecue School
There’s barbecue and then there’s barbecue… London Barbecue School specialises in the delicious alchemy of alfresco cooking, taking students from the fling-a-sausage-on-the-grill-and-hope mentality to the near-meditative art of smoking and slow roasting. The five-hour low-and-slow class is the school’s signature course, and covers the mechanics of barbecue set-up (including ceramic barbecues and smokers), the selection and prep of meat and fuel, and making marinades, sauces and rubs – all before the fire’s lit. You’ll learn how to make juicy smoked short ribs, tender harissa-spiced lamb shoulder, and hot-smoked salmon, as well as picking up tips on classics such as brisket and pulled pork.
Next available classes 26 July; 4, 5, 18, and 19 August
£110, including tea, coffee, bacon roll, all kit, ingredients and fuel, notes and recipes)
2. Curries of the World at The Kitchen
Held at Chewton Glen hotel’s cookery school in Hampshire, this is the ideal class for the spice-lover of the family, taking students on a world-ranging tasting tour of curry from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean and clocking in at every stop on the chilli-heat scale from mild to mind-bending. The day-long course includes a demonstration and tasting of Indonesian show-stopper beef rendang, as well as hands-on lessons in rustling up Keralan fish curry, jerk chicken curry with coconut rice and peas and a pumpkin curry from Pakistan.
Next available classes 15 June; 4 July, 18 August
£175, including all ingredients and equipment, morning refreshments, lunch, and a tour of the kitchen gardens.
3. Cider making at the School of Artisan Food
In the heart of Sherwood Forest, the School of Artisan Food breathes a breath of fresh country air back into food, focusing on old-school traditions and techniques ranging from nose-to-tail butchery to making your own cheese. Just in time for the summer apple crop, this course arms you with everything you need to know to make classic British ciders and perrys at home. Led by Simon Reed of Kent’s Rough Old Wife Cidery, the day-long course covers a whistle-stop tour of Britain’s cider-making tradition, an overview of the apples and pear varieties commonly used, and detailed guidance on the process, from milling and pressing to fermenting and maturing. If you like, you can even bring your own fruit.
Next available classes 4,5 August
£165, including refreshments, lunch, and all the fruit you can press (but do bring your own containers if you want to take any cider home)
4. Fish Dishes at Rick Stein Cookery School
With the freshest of the fresh landing on the Cornish coast every day, there are few places better positioned for making the most of ocean’s bounty than Rick Stein’s cookery school in Padstow, and few schools better equipped to show you how to cook it. Whether you’r a pro-filleter or a fish out of water when it comes to seafood, the one-day Fish Dishes course is a great way to hone your seafood skills. The class covers essential techniques including whole-fish cooking, filleting both flat and round fish, cold-cooking with lime juice, skinning monkfish tails, making fish cakes and preparing classic accompaniments such as compound butters and beurre noisette.
Next available classes 22 June, 14 July, 10 August
£198, including tea and coffee, lunch, wine, all kit and ingredients, a recipe folder and a certificate to show off afterwards.
5. Butchery at the Quality Chop House
There’s no better way to learn about meat than to come face to face with the animal it comes from, and the butchery classes at London’s Quality Chop House confront you, boning knife in hand, with the complete carcass. During the Chop House’s two-hour evening whole-animal butchery classes (either pork, lamb or beef), groups of up to eight are taken on a tour of primal and eating cuts, and taught how to break down the animal into its most delicious bits. They also run more generalist skills classes, teaching useful home-cooking know-how including sharpening knives jointing chcikens, French trimming a rack of lamb and rolling, stuffing and tying porchetta. Thanks to the attached restaurant, each class ends with a meal, and you also go home with a bag stuffed with your prepped meat cuts to tuck into at home.
Next available classes 9, 23 July; 6, 20 August
£165, including all ingredients and equipment and a sharing style dinner.