Upskilling in the Kitchen: Guild members go back to school

Masterchef finalists? Maybe not yet. But a Guild group left a favourable impression in the teaching kitchen at Chewton Glen, the luxury hotel and spa in Hampshire. Ferne Arfin – who also took the pictures -reports:
Rob Cottam demonstrates – Sarah Lee records
We travel writers have lots of experience in eating well…but can we cook? That was the challenge facing eleven BGTW members – ten women and one brave man – as we donned our signature aprons in The Kitchen at Chewton Glen and prepared to chop, blend, mix, sauté, bake and eat our way through a seasonal dinner party menu of the finest ingredients money could buy.  
Kirstie Pelling shows presentation skills
On the menu: flower decorated goat cheese and beetroot puff pastry tarts; loin of venison in a sauce of brandy and Madeira with polenta, red cabbage and kale; sticky toffee pudding, and chocolate dipped Florentines. The recipes, developed by Chef Tutor Rob Cottam and overseen by celebrity Chef James Martin, were typical of Martin’s style – so naturally there were also lashings of butter and cream.
Yasemen Kaner-White stirs things up
Actually, we all did rather well under the Chef Rob’s guidance and with help from his kitchen “elves” Jan and Polly. It probably didn’t hurt that everything was trimmed and measured for us in advance; oven temperatures set, timings determined by the pros.  The 12 professional cooking stations – aspiring chefs’ wet dreams of state-of-the-art magnetic hobs, indestructible ceramic counters, and every imaginable tool – helped as well.  Along with goodie bags of the biscuits and puddings we made, our takeaways included a few new knife skills, behind the scenes advice and tricks of the trade.  Besides Ferne Arfin, Guild members Kirstie Pelling, Susanna Scott, Emma Gregg, Godfrey Hall, Yasemen Kaner-White, Helen Ochyra, Sarah Lee, Isobel Diamond, Anna Hyman, Carole Wright and Ferne Arfin took part in the experience at The Kitchen, the  multi-million pound cookery school and casual restaurant opened in March 2017 at the 5-star hotel. Before leaving we had a chance to inspect the Chewton Glen’s glorious luxury tree houses, its spa, pool and several luxury suites.                
Ferne Arfin
By: Ferne Arfin Author, Journalist, Photographer