Clarkes Cookery School

It was back in October 2013 that Lee Clarke launched his cookery school, determined to share some of his vast knowledge and advanced skills, and encouraged by regular requests for coaching in the kitchen

Classes were initially held on Mondays, but demand was so fierce that Lee and his team are adding Sunday nights to the curriculum! ‘We were opening the restaurant on Sunday nights,’ Lee explains, ‘but now we’re going to close and just do cookery classes, followed by a dinner.’

Anyone who has eaten at Clarkes or has heard of its reputation will know how fantastic dining there can be. But Lee is keen to reassure anyone who is worried that their ability might not be up to learning in so top-end an environment. ‘People can come along for a day that covers the basics, and then at the end they can decide if the whole course is for them – a lot of people do then sign up for the 12 weeks after that.’

And what can people expect to have learned after the course?

‘The most important thing we want for participants is for them to become more confident,’ says Lee. ‘We get them so that when they go into their own kitchens they can really go for it, have a go with new things. This week, for example, was fish week. We prepped a fish down from whole to fillet, and also prepared salmon five different ways, including hay-roasted, cooked in salt and en papillote. Next week we’ll do lamb. A previous week has seen us doing bread, we made fudge, stuff like that. Every week is different! One I’m really looking forward to is cooking within the PE postcode: essentially, all ingredients for a three-course meal will be sourced from the Peterborough area.’

The use of fresh, local produce is one of the cornerstones of Lee’s kitchen philosophy, and it’s one of thing that seems to most appeal to participants in the cookery school, too. ‘They all get very excited about the ingredients, and what we’re going to do with them, which is wonderful to see,’ he says. ‘We’re using a lot of Denham Estate venison at the moment, and our lamb is from an excellent local supplier based near Grantham.’

And of course, at the end of each session – there’s the eating! Cooking and enjoying food is a very sociable activity, and there is certainly no shortage of warmth and conviviality in Lee’s classroom. ‘We don’t take ourselves too seriously!’ he laughs. ‘I want people to leave the course having learned stuff, but the most important thing for me is that they’ve enjoyed themselves.’

Clarkes Restaurant
10 Queen St, St John’s Square, Peterborough
01733 892681

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