Last week I spent a fantastic, sunny day at Raymond Blanc’s Cookery School at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton. In the capable hands of Chef Michael John we were given an illuminating insight into Stocks and Sauces, with hands-on cookery, lots of eating and a beautiful walk round the productive gardens sampling the impressive array of micro-herbs as we went.
We started with a solid array of stocks – brown chicken, fish and vegetable – and got to prepare and eat a wide selection of dishes including eggs, vegetable soup, salmon, chicken and steak.
As you would expect at this topnotch establishment, the course was run with military precision whilst delivered in a welcoming, friendly fashion, so we were able to enjoy both a relaxed day whilst still covering all the material needed to get the most out of this course.
Chef Mikey was very encouraging and open to questions, and not just on the dishes to hand (I kept quizzing him about fish and shellfish as I’ve been expanding my repertoire in this area recently – he was incredibly patient!). For every stage of every recipe he had lots of little tips which can be transferred to other recipes too. (Such as when skimming stock use your spoon to do a little swirl in the middle so scum collects on the outside and is easier to remove – revelatory!)
I’ve since had a go at making the brown chicken stock, poached egg with tomato ragu, pan-fried salmon with a white wine sauce & veg puree, steak with red wine sauce & leeks and the summery, fresh pistou soup. Hubby doesn’t know what’s hit him! It’s all been delicious and thoroughly manageable. Actually watching a professional cook dishes and talk you through them is a transformative experience compared to just trying to recreate recipes from a book.
All-in-all an excellent day. I left with a straining brain as there was so much to take in but also a straining tummy, for which I’m never complaining! Oh, and as part of the course we received a branded chef’s jacket (I may not have taken mine off yet, ahem), and a cute pencil with a lavender seed encapsulated in the end. So I can now grow a little piece of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in my garden as well enjoy some of the recipes in my kitchen. A thoroughly recommended course as well as an inspirational experience.