Chef Paul Webbe has been foraging since before it was fashionable, scouring the Sussex coast and countryside for mushrooms, wild garlic and more to fuel the kitchens of his aptly named restaurant, The Wild Mushroom, just outside Hastings. Twenty years later, that ‘best of Sussex’ ethos now informs his mini-empire of four restaurants scattered across Hastings and Rye – and one cookery school.
Based in Rye, but offering occasional fish mornings in Hastings, Webbe’s Cookery School is landscape-led and strictly seasonal in focus, offering informal, easygoing instruction in how to transform the best of field, forest and fishing boat into show-stopping dishes – and then eat them, by way of finale. Paul’s passion for the region is palpable in both the tone and content of the courses: mushroom foraging in autumn; Rye Bay scallops in winter, Romney salt march lamb in spring, and fresh sustainable fish year-round.
The school’s students range from keen amateurs and team-building day-trippers to professional cooks, and although no one walks out the door with a certificate, they invariably leave with a new-found appreciation for the link between food and the landscape it comes from. Passion is contagious, after all.