Its been a very exciting few months here at Vale House Kitchen. In September we hosted our first big Corporate Day with a group of 50 lawyers from Shell coming to enjoy a day in the fabulous Somerset countryside. We wanted to show them everything that we had to offer so had groups shooting, fly fishing, trying their hand at butchery and chef skills along with cake decoration as well. The day was a tremendous success helped by the glorious late summer weather which meant that everyone could get the most out of our fantastic location. Lunch was even enjoyed on the lawn, something you really don’t expect in late September! The fly fishers managed 6 fish throughout the day, some of which were sashimied by Tim and Kieran for lunch, the rest smoked and taken back to the hotel. And Sandra had the cake decorators conjuring up all sorts of interesting cup cake inventions, with our guests unleashing designs that wouldn’t have been out of place on an episode of GBBO! If you are thinking of hosting a Corporate Day in the West Country please get in touch and we will make sure that you have a very enjoyable and unique experience. The pictures from the day are here on our Facebook page.
Looking back to 2013 this really has been a huge journey for all of us here at Vale House Kitchen. The building work on the school finished right on schedule so we opened our doors on September 12th with Tim Maddams hosting one of his excellent One Day Seasonal Cookery courses. We have been very well received by the Foodie Community culminating in us being nominated for Best Cookery School in Food Magazine Readers Awards. If you haven’t given us your vote yet then please do here: Link to Food Magazine Readers Awards
We hosted Bath Rugby in late December on one of our Shooting Experiences with the boys learning to shoot down in Wellow with our fantastic host Frank Shellard.
After everyone had shot a pheasant or two we headed back to the teaching kitchen to show them how to prep the birds and make pheasant fajitas, one of Tim’s favourites. They then were shown how to expertly butcher a deer which was followed by a venison feast in our cellar. David Flatman gave us an excellent write up in Bath Life (page 21 of this editon)
Looking ahead to 2014 we have lots to be excited about. Our courses are filling up quickly and as one of the only schools to offer country skills along side hands on cookery classes we continue to look at bringing you more unique and interesting expriences. All will be revealed in the next few months.
The third course at VHK had award winning cake maker Sandra Monger take the helm and teach a group of ladies how to bake a celebration cake. In scenes that would rival GBBO the guests created the perfect Victoria Sponge mix and whilst that was baking all made a cream cheese frosting to fill their cakes with. After lunch Sandra demonstrated how to model chocolate flowers with white chocolate. The guests then made their own to place on top of their finished cakes. At the end of the day after layering the sponge with home made jam and the cream cheese frosting there were some stunning cakes baked. Another happy group of guests left VHK feeling very proud of their hard work, cake boxes in hand.
Our second course was led by award winning jam maker Vivien Lloyd. Fruits and sugar at the ready, a full kitchen embarked on a range of autumnal jams and chilli jam. Initially the assembled guests split into groups and made raspberry, raspberry and vanilla and damson jam. As pots boiled and the air was full of delicious fruit aromas the atmosphere was incredibly jovial and most remarked on how they were surprised how easy it was to make jam. After lunch it was time to spice things up a little and with the kitchen full of chillis from the garden here at VHK and some from Vivs garden as everyone made chilli jam. Some of the finished preserves were very fiery indeed! At the end of the day we had made nearly 60lbs of different jam and our happy guests headed home with a box full of their fruity hard work!
So after 3 months of builders converting our wonderful stone outbuilding into ValeHouseKitchen we opened for business on 12th September. Our opening course was led by Tim Maddams, ex head chef of the Axminster Canteen, for an insight into Seasonal Cookery. Everyone started off by making a bread dough and while that was proving Tim gave a demo on how easy it is to make home made pasta. The guests then prepared a courgette, chilli and garlic sauce to go with the pasta and took a quick break soaking up the sun on our terrace. After the break it was time to make a quick marrow pickle. Tim showing how easy it is to use up the glut of vegetables you get at this time of year and turn them into a long lasting tasty treat. Then it was time for dessert, a blackberry crème Catalan, a Spanish take on our crème brullee. Whilst that was cooking everyone had a hands lesson on how to butcher a partridge and then prepare it 2 ways; slow cooked legs in a tomato and herb sauce and pan fried breast. As all these elements of the meal came together it was time to head to our dining room where everyone enjoyed the fruits of their labour with a glass of wine. A fantastic first day and definitely starting as we mean to go on.
Last Friday a band a foragers led by Chris Westgate, our foraging tutor, left Vale House Kitchen to stroll through the Somerset countryside and see what edible delights the fields and hedgerows had to offer. The 3 hour walk crossed meadows, went through woodland and along babbling brooks and enabled Chris to share her vast knowledge of wild foods that people often overlook. The highlight was a picnic underneath an oak tree with delights made by Chris from her company Heavenly Hedgerows. A fine forage was had by all with everyone remarking how they had started to find their inner forager. Courses start in September.