Reviewed by: Hannah Birch
Slap in the city centre, a few seconds’ stroll from the station, the Grand Hotel York proudly claims to be ‘the only five-star hotel in Yorkshire’ and has the bells and whistles to prove it: glitzy spa, gourmet restaurant, knockout afternoon tea – and a spiffing new cookery school. Every bit as grand as its name proclaims, the Grand doesn’t hold back where any of its facilities are concerned – including the school, where both hotel guests and culinary-minded visitors are treated to a broad array of classes, up to five days a week.
The school is run by chef tutor Andrew Dixon, a veteran cookery teacher and seasoned exec chef from a host of AA-rosetted kitchens across the country. He and his team cultivate a professional but friendly teaching style, ensuring the Grand’s classes are as welcoming to nervous novices as they are to more confident cooks. The emphasis is very much on having fun and making friends, but the teaching quality and equipment definitely don’t compromise on quality to deliver it. The purpose-built schoolroom is the perfect balance between home-kitchen comfort and restaurant-level kit, with 15 top-flight workstations (one for wheelchair users), a large dining room, chic chefs’ table and a state-of-the-art lecture theatre. Outside, there’s a small kitchen garden to grow herbs for use during classes, with space for alfresco dining in summer.
There are currently more than 50 classes on the curriculum, from single-dish sessions such as fish ’n’ chips, to more ambitious affairs including sous vide cooking at home. Guest tutors such as Sabrina Ghayour pop in frequently, and there are often two-hour express classes in the evening for those hoping to slip to enhance their gastronomic education after work.