Something we love to do here on the Vale House Kitchen blog is celebrate all the brilliant experts who lead our classes & workshops, and make everything possible. This month, though, something a little different – we’re celebrating the man behind it all, our own Bod Griffiths.
Together with his wife Annie, Bod opened the Vale House Kitchen Cookery School in 2013, but his love of food and traditional country skills dates all the way back to childhood, attending boarding school in the UK and staying with his grandparents in the holidays. Bod’s grandmother was a dab hand in the kitchen herself and her endless supply of fabulous home-cooked meals gave Bod a real love for proper food, as well as a thorough grounding in how to prepare it himself – when she passed away, she left Bod her wooden spoon, which Bod & Annie’s son Michael is now learning to use in the kitchen.
As a young man living and working in London, Bod escaped from the city whenever possible for fishing, shooting and foraging expeditions, always bringing back a haul of fresh ingredients to experiment with in the kitchen. After 20 years in the capital, he and Annie finally made the move they’d always dreamed of and bought a beautiful old manor house, surrounded by gardens, in the Somerset village of Timsbury. The idea was to revive traditional countryside practices and teach skills not recipes, instructing keen foodies in practices like home butchery, preserving, bread making, hunting and foraging that just a generation or two ago would’ve been commonplace. Having passed its third birthday this summer, the school goes from strength to strength, with a large team of expert tutors and plenty of happy attendees (who often come back again and again).
For Bod, the experience of turning beloved hobbies into a full-time job has been an absolute pleasure. He speaks fondly of the camaraderie and connection of working with other foodies, whether out on a shoot or over bubbling pans in the kitchen, and the enormous sense of well-being to be gained from getting out in the fresh air in England’s gorgeous countryside – particularly important for those unfortunate enough to spend most weeks in the office. He also feels passionately about the need to take responsibility for the food you eat – while some might feel a little squeamish about hunting and killing for food, for Bod it’s far more respectful than just picking up another battery-farmed chicken from the supermarket, not to mention healthier.
There’s no doubt that Bod and Annie have a strong vision for Vale House Kitchen’s future. Their passion and enthusiasm are evident throughout. Bod continues to use his extensive skills in everything from fly fishing to jam-making – he’s even picked up a silver medal in the World Marmalade Awards. He’s also just a thoroughly great chap, always generous, warm and positive. When asked why Vale House Kitchen, one thing tutors always mention is the joy of working with Bod & Annie, and their genuine commitment to and joy in the business they’ve created. Here’s to the next three years!