Just incase you missed our debut on Sunday Brunch with Game Chef extraordinaire Tim Maddams talking all about Venison. Heres a link to the recipes for the amazing dishes that Tim was talking about on the show.
Robin Rea has been a chef for 20 years, and now runs Rusty Pig, a shop specialising in delicious charcuterie, cured meats, joints, sausages and plenty more, not to mention the most scrumptious piggy picnic baskets. Robin is Vale House’s resident pig butchery expert and guru on all matters of the trotter.
How did you get drawn into your particular area of expertise?
I fell into it really – about seven years ago I started a family and set up a small-holding where we kept pigs. Although we did then move to a smaller property we continued to keep pigs, and then when my mum retired and gave up her shop premises, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to open up a specialist charcuterie deli.
What really inspires you about it?
I love pork because it’s so versatile. The pig is the king of charcuterie – although it’s made with lots of other meats too, like beef and venison, pretty much all charcuterie products will include pork as well, so it’s pretty much essential.
What attracted you to Vale House Kitchen?
As soon as I met Bod, I knew we’d be great friends. Bod and Annie are really committed to creating a great learning experience, which is why they keep the classes small – which means it’s not about making lots of money, but about passing on knowledge and learning new skills. I really appreciate that approach and I think visitors do too.
Why would you encourage people to take your course in particular?
Because I’m fantastically interesting and funny! My course isn’t a masterclass, so it’s suitable for beginners – but hopefully, by the end of the day, they’ll have real confidence about using the same skills at home.
A WI judge, multiple award-winner for her own homemade jams and marmalades, and long-established teacher, Vivien Lloyd is the undisputed queen of preserving beautiful British produce. Although delighted to see pursuits like jam-making making a comeback, Vivien is determined to share the traditional methods she firmly believes are the secret to the very best preserves. At Vale House she leads a number of popular courses on jam and chutney-making.
What drew you into your particular area of expertise?
In the late 1980s my husband and I were living in Worcestershire with a fabulously abundant garden full of fruit trees, and when my husband managed to pick 200kg of plums in one season (the aptly named Early Rivers Prolific Plum variety!) I decided to try my hand at preserving them so they didn’t go to waste. I immediately got the preserving bug and soon entered the local village show, where one of the judges told me about a WI certificate in preserving I might enjoy. From there I went on to become a WI judge, whilst continuing to make my own jams, marmalades and chutneys, and when I won the Best of the Best Award at the World’s Original Marmalade Festival in 2008, that gave me the push to start teaching and sharing what I’d learnt.
What inspires you about it?
These days it really is a dying craft – although people are still making jams and pickles, the traditional methods are firmly in decline, so I’m determined not to let them vanish. I also love the way that you’re led by the seasons. No two seasons are ever the same, so no two batches of preserves will be the same either; you’re always working with what’s available. I’m always excited by the opportunity to come up with new flavours and combinations.
What drew you to Vale House?
I think there’s a really strong ethos at the heart of Vale House Kitchen – it’s all about the value of country skills, which is something I really believe in too. It’s also a great location and a fantastically well-equipped school. As a tutor, I’ve got the facilities and equipment that make it really easy to share my skills with students.
Why would you encourage people to take your course in particular?
I’m really the only person in the country teaching these particular traditional preserving methods. I focus on equipping those I teach with great recipes that really work – often when people have tried and failed at preserving before, it’s down to the recipe rather than any particular lack of skill. My recipes can be relied upon for good results time and time again, giving people the confidence to try them at home.
To find out more about the courses Vivien teaches for us:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and that means Christmas shopping is looming on the horizon. Every year it’s the same dilemmas – what to get for the person who has absolutely everything? What to buy for the men in your life who just don’t like ‘stuff’? What to pick for the friends whose taste you really don’t get?
Fear not, we’ve got the solution – our delicious Vale House Kitchen gift vouchers. Rather than saddling friends & family with yet more knick knacks (or worse yet, resorting to the dreaded pair of socks), treat them to a fabulous experience at our beautiful little cookery school just outside Bath.
Our vouchers range from £50 to £400, so you can give your loved ones a little something towards a class or splash out and cover the whole thing. It’s a great way to give a present that’s personal but also still flexible enough for them to choose what they really fancy.
Whether the lucky recipient is keen in the kitchen or not, we’ve got something to suit. For complete beginners, there’s our Introduction to Cooking course, or for those who are a little more comfortable with cuisine, we’d recommend one of our scrumptious spring courses like All About Lamb – a great way to get into seasonal cookery. We also teach a lot of great traditional skills that are making a huge comeback – baking your own bread, making jams and marmalades, and doing your own butchery. And it’s not all about the kitchen either – anyone who likes to get out in the fresh air will love our fly fishing and shooting experiences. To be honest, we reckon an experience is the best kind of present you can get – something to look forward to, enjoy, and be inspired by afterwards, with the inestimable bonus that you don’t have to find space for it in your house or remember to dust it. What could be more perfect?
For more information and to order our vouchers, click here – place your order by Saturday 19th December to make sure that you receive them in time for Christmas.
When it comes to preparing, cooking and serving game, professional chef Tim Maddams is your man – which is why we get him in to teach our game courses, including our upcoming Complete Game Experience. He’s also a dab hand with the very best fresh fish and vegetables, so you can also catch him at our Fish Cookery Days and Fly Fishing Experience, and the Seasonal Cookery Course. For the first interview in our new Meet the Experts series, our resident blogger Sal caught up with him to find out what makes this expert tick.
How did you get drawn into your area of expertise?
I grew up surrounded by real food – not because it was trendy, but because it was good for us and it was less expensive than the processed stuff! I was also lucky enough to work with a lot of great people who pretty much rewrote the book on seasonal cookery – not as a ‘clever’ cuisine but as a way of cooking with real food for real people. When I teach, for me it’s about passing on skills rather than recipes as such – it’s about giving people the tools to make seasonal cookery work for them.
What inspires you?
I think that letting fresh, local produce be at the centre of your cooking, letting it speak to you, can be exciting every single day. I’ve also been inspired by some great chefs who feel the same way – Alastair Little and Fergus Henderson are two I could name.
What attracted you to Vale House Kitchen?
Great people! Bod and Annie are so genuine, and that really resonated with me. For them, Vale House Kitchen isn’t just a business, but a lifestyle – they practise what they preach, by raising and butchering their own pigs, keeping bees, growing their own produce and loads more. I think that’s what makes them really unique amongst all the cookery schools out there – their authenticity.
Why would you encourage people to take your courses in particular?
I think as a tutor I’ve got a depth of knowledge that sets my courses apart, especially when it comes to marine science and the research and understanding of game. Combined with my experience as a chef, that means I’ve got a lot to share with the students.
To find out more about the courses Tim teaches for us:
Complete Game Course
Game Butchery and Cookery Day
Fish Cookery Day
One Day Seasonal Cookery Course
The Fly Fishing Experience – 2 day course
Venison Butchery and Cookery Day
All about Lamb
Our newest two-day course, the Complete Game Experience, celebrates everything we love about game here in the UK – it’ll guide you, under the tutelage of some of the best local experts, through the entire process, from shooting, to plucking and butchering, to cooking. Whether you’re looking to learn more about killing your own food, or not sure what to do with game in the kitchen, this unique experience is guaranteed to answer all your questions.
On day one, you’ll take part in a 100-bird driven shoot with local company Shellard’s Shoot, including a full briefing, expert tutelage and a delicious lunch. In the evening, chef and author of the newest River Cottage handbook on game, Tim Maddams, will create a fabulous feast to show off the versatility of game in a selection of delicious dishes, all matched with the perfect glass of wine to wash them down. A night’s accommodation will then be provided at the excellent Carpenter’s Arms in Stanton Wick.
Day two will be spent in our beautiful converted barn classroom here at Vale House, learning to butcher, clean and prepare game under Tim’s expert guidance. You’ll get stuck in to creating a variety of different recipes in both a traditional style and with a more modern, creative approach, and enjoy an exquisite three course lunch.
Not sure whether this is the course for you? Here’s why we think you should book yourself a place. At Vale House Kitchen, we’re passionate about the best, freshest British produce, and about getting the public back in touch with where food comes from. We think learning to kill and butcher your own animals not only gives you the opportunity to ensure high welfare standards and a good death, but helps you better appreciate what it is that you’re eating. And why game? Not only is it an abundant source of wild food here in the UK, but it’s really good for you too – wild game is lean, rich in iron and protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. Not to mention, of course, that it tastes absolutely delicious. Join us for this incredible experience and learn how to make the most of this Great British staple.