Flowers and a phone call are nice enough, but if you really want to honour the mother(s) in your life this year, a cookery course may be just the ticket. Fun, memorable and unique, a day in the kitchen with some of the most accomplished chefs and tutors in the country is a treat – whether your mum is a culinary genius or a serial vegetable overboiler.
So before you go pick up the usual box of Lindor or spa-stuff gift set, consider a National Cookery School Guide gift card – they can be used towards booking any course at any of the 50 schools we feature across the country, meaning mum can spent the day learning whatever takes her fancy – whether that’s the finer points of French patisserie or hands-on whole pig butchery.
To give you some inspiration, we’ve looked through the course schedules of the 50 UK schools featured on NCSG and picked out five of the best classes, demonstrations and experience on offer around Mother’s Day (Sunday 11 March; circle the calendar).
AFTERNOON TEA AT WAITROSE
A five-hour masterclass in the art of afternoon tea at Waitrose Cookery School’s Finchley outpost, focused on three spring-inspired sweet treats: white-chocolate cremeux with rhubarb and ginger; coconut and passionfruit friands; and Earl Grey custard-filled doughnuts. The class covers numerous techniques that help hone home baking, ranging from caramel and chocolate work to perfecting pastry.
Saturday 10 March; £100 (including breakfast, elevenses, chef-prepared lunch with wine/beer and recipe cards)
LESLEY WATERS’S MOTHER’S DAY DEMO
For mums who prefer sit-down to hands-on, Lesley (former head tutor at Leith’s School of Food & Wine) offers a three-hour watch-and-learn demonstration of how to whip up eight spectacular seasonal dishes at her beautiful cookery school in Halstock, Dorset. Recipes range from lamb tagine and prune and goats’ cheese tarte tatin, to flowerpot loaves and choc-chip rice pudding. The best bit? Attendees get to eat it all afterwards.
Saturday 10 March, 11am–2pm; £100 (including lunch and recipe pack)
ROSEMARY SCHRAGER’S CHOCOLATE MASTERCLASS
British chef royalty Rosemary Schrager is teaming up with master chocolatier Andrew Thwaite (a veteran collaborator of cocoa giant Barry Callebaut) to offer a full-day immersion in chocolate (not literally, sadly) at her cookery school in Tunbridge Wells. Beginning with a detailed tasting of various types of the sweet stuff, the course covers all the essentials of chocolate work, including tempering, moulding, ganache-making, decoration and flavour-matching. By the end, all participants will have a decorated Easter egg, a box of truffles and a box of moulded chocolates to take home, as well as Andrew’s guidebook on working with chocolate.
Saturday 10 March, 10am–4pm; £245 (including breakfast, light lunch with wine, and recipe pack)
KID’S CAKES FOR MUM AT TANTE MARIE
There’s no reason why it has to be mum doing the cooking. Tante Marie’s professional cookery school in Woking is inviting junior chefs in for the morning to learn how to whip up the most thoughtful Mother’s Day gift of all: home-made lemon-sponge cupcakes.
Saturday 10 March, 9.30am–1pm; £65 (ages 7 and up; participants must be at least 1.37m tall to use the Tante Marie kitchen)
LUNCH WITH ANGELA GRAY
Angela Gray’s Cookery School at Llanerch Vineyard is one of the very few holding an event on Mothering Sunday itself. To celebrate all things maternal, Angela is hosting a special luncheon-style hands-on session taking participants on a step-by-step journey through taste au chocolate, hazelnut and raisin rye bread and –for lunch – a two-cheese soufflé with roast tomato and pepper velouté.
Sunday 11 March, 9.30am–1.30pm; £120 (including champagne and canapés, lunch, and a signer copy of Angela’s summer recipe book)