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Cookery School Sept 1

York College Cookery School launches with A Culinary Tour of Rome

Whether you’d like to revisit some 1970s Retro classics, add variety to your Vegan diet or turn your hand to cooking traditional Italian dishes – the York College Cookery School intends to cater for all tastes.

Launched this summer, the Cookery School is running a range of one-day and five-week courses that are hosted in our professional training kitchens and led by our multi-skilled chefs.

The courses are targeted both at complete beginners and those who have existing culinary skills but want to build on their confidence in the kitchen.

With course fees ranging from just £20 to £35, which includes the provision of ingredients, the Cookery School also represents great value for money amid the current Cost of Living Crisis.

Affordability is factored into the choice of recipes, too, and York College Head Chef Gio Achenza is thrilled to be throwing open the Cookery School’s doors to the public.

Gio oversaw the School’s first course A Culinary Tour of Rome last month and admitted: “It feels amazing to be launching a Cookery School here. We have the facilities and equipment and I just want people to come here and have a good time, while experiencing some cooking skills.

“It’s a friendly environment where everybody can have a go and meet new people. The courses we are running at the moment are open to everybody whatever your level of cooking experience.

“We demo simple recipes with products you can find in any supermarket and we’re looking at how cost effective the dishes are. I also share my experience, skills, passion and tricks of the trade.

“We're planning to add some more technical courses in the future where you can learn specific skills, such as pasta making when we could delve more deeply into the different types of shapes and flours and those courses could be suitable for professionals and people in the industry.”

Sardinia-born Gio has previously held senior roles as a chef with the Hilton Hotel and Gino D’Acampo Restaurant chains, often meeting up with the celebrity chef socially while working for him.

He also visits Italy regularly to visit family and to ensure that he is keeping up with any changes in culinary trends in his homeland.

Gio will be joined in delivering the Cookery School sessions by York College Culinary Master Graham Fyfe, who will largely be focussing on more old school dishes, dinner-party greats and vintage puds, such as those showcased on the Retro Revival course including Chicken Kiev, Brandy Snap Baskets and Croquettes.

Liz Powell, from Holgate in York, was one of the Cookery School’s very first students after attending Gio’s A Culinary Tour of Rome course and, despite having cooked for her family for 30 years, was delighted to come away with some new techniques and recipes.

She went on to add that she enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people, loved Gio’s calm demeanour and thought that the cost of the course was “fantastic”.

Most importantly, perhaps, she left feeling full having feasted on the “gorgeous” food!

The one-day course ran for seven hours from 9.30am to 4.30pm and Liz said: “The things we made and the techniques we learned were great. It was also nice to meet new people.

“I’ve cooked for four kids and a husband for 30 years, but I came away from the Cookery School with new ideas - even just simple techniques that make things easier like chopping onions and Gio’s so calm and patient. He’s the opposite of what you see from chefs on television.

“He’s so helpful and everything is so clean and organised. All the food is weighed and prepped and he demos everything.

“The equipment is really good, too. The hot plates are so efficient. They are really hot but cool down quickly.

“It was all so enjoyable, and we had a lovely lunch in the middle, as well as having stuff to take away that I could show off at home! Every bit of it was fantastic and I absolutely loved it.

“We made a spaghetti dish with lardons and a sauce, and chicken with pancetta and a lovely sauce with wine in it. Then, we made brioche buns, which we filled with Chantilly cream and a loaf of that too.

“I’d definitely cook the chicken dish again - it was so tasty and wasn’t difficult. The ingredients were not massively expensive either.

“You get the recipes to take home and everything is printed out in really simple steps. It went so fast because we were doing one thing and, then, on to the next. It was all gorgeous and I left feeling full!

“I went to the Adult Showcase before and had also done the six-week evening class and I’d like to do more now. It’s a bit of me time and, although I’ve come with friends in the past, I quite like coming on my own too because it’s a place where you feel happy on your own.

“I think I’m going to enrol on the Retro Revival course next. I really fancy that, because it’s the food I grew up with and the cost of the Cookery School courses is fantastic.

“You have to pay ridiculous money at some of the hotels, but I know the College is good value because I come here for treatments, too.”

Hannah Warren travelled to College from Camblesforth, near Selby, to attend Gio’s A Culinary Tour of Rome course, having learned about the Cookery School’s launch at our Adult Summer Showcase.

She also remarked on the “amazing” course fee, Gio’s attentive and knowledgeable nature and how she will be returning soon.

Hannah added: “It was an amazing day. I heard about the Cookery School when I did the Jewellery taster session at the Adult Showcase and I saw people doing the Breadmaking.

“I’ve always been a keen cook and hosted dinner parties, but Gio just goes step-by-step through everything and even a novice, or somebody who thinks they can’t cook at all, would be able to do the course. He’s really attentive and knowledgeable.

“There was one point where my pan had just got hot on one side, which I had missed because we were talking too much. I’d taken my eye off it, but that support was there.

“Learning about how to get the texture of your pasta sauce right was also interesting and I’ll be going home thinking ‘I need to do this’. I’ll definitely come back and, as soon as I’m home, I’ll be booking on some more courses.

“I’m interested in the Vegan one because my daughter was Vegan. She’s now Vegetarian, but I’m always scratching my head about what I can make her.

“The cost of the courses is amazing which makes it accessible for a lot of people. I enjoyed the real variety of what we cooked as well. The food was gorgeous and smelt great while we were cooking it!”

One Pot Wonders will be the Cookery School’s next course.

It will take place over five weeks on Thursday nights (6pm-8pm) from September 28 and costs £30 with the focus on nutritious, affordable and delicious meals that can be prepared on the stove top or in the slow cooker, including curries, stews and risottos.

The other courses that will be staged throughout this academic year will be One-Day Pasta Masterclass; Kitchen Disaster to Culinary Master; Retro Revival; A Culinary Tour of Sicily; Beyond Meat Plant-Based Cookery; Decadent Desserts; A Culinary Tour of Southern Italy; Beyond Meat Plant-Based Entertaining; Five-Week Pasta Masterclass and Breads of the World.

Gio is also the Head Chef of our on-site Ashfields Restaurant, where our hospitality and catering students cook and serve food to the public on selected lunchtimes and evenings when a six-course tasting menu is offered.

There are Japanese, Mexican, Caribbean and Italian-themed nights during the year as well as Afternoon Tea, Gin Tasting, Wine Pairing and Cocktail evenings and the restaurant can be hired out for private events.

Please email or call 01904 770253 for more information on future events or to make a booking.