Need to brush up on your skills in the kitchen or simply want to take up a new hobby? Lindsey Johnstone picks out five of the best Scottish cookery schools for you to check out

Are the TV chefs putting you to shame? Local takeaways sending you Christmas cards? If your culinary skills are not up to scratch, whether you’re aiming to impress or simply stop yourself from starving, there are people who can help.

They run cookery schools, and there are plenty to choose from in Scotland. Here are five of the best, offering expertise in everything from fine dining to French fancies, curry to craft beer accompaniments:

As the youngest Scottish chef ever to hold a Michelin star, it’s safe to say Nick Nairn knows what he’s doing. You can up your chances of being able to say the same by booking yourself into Nick Nairn Cook School. Besides that all-important aforementioned star, the draw here is the scenery, with lake views afforded by its location at Port of Menteith. As well as Nick’s expertise, budding cooks can benefit from the appearance of celebrity guest stars, which in November will include an all-star line-up for a week-long residential course taught by Tony Singh, TV legend Brian Turner, Michelin-starred Michael Smith, Ondine’s Roy Brett and, of course, Nick himself.

If a week seems a little daunting, ease yourself in with three-hour and one-day classes, at which you can learn to cook everything from Asian classics to Christmas dinner.

At Colstoun Cookery School the emphasis is on environmental sustainability and the provenance of the produce. Set in 2,000 acres of organic farmland and forest in East Lothian, with its own walled garden and energy-saving wood-chip heating network providing the hot water, Colstoun has excellent green credentials and offers day-long classes and week-long courses (with the option of accommodation on the Colstoun estate) that focus on nutritious cooking using organic ingredients, as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Think healthy Thai and Italian, local game, sushi and foraging – and if that all sounds a little po-faced, there’s a cake class too.

Nothing gets a more rapturous welcome than a good curry, and it makes for a quick and easy kitchen stalwart once you’ve invested in a decent spice rack.

If you’re looking to master Scotland’s other national dish, Ashoka Cook School in Glasgow (naturally) is a safe bet, and has 20 different courses on offer. Pick your poison, be it Biryani, Tikka Masala or Bhoona, and sign yourself up for a dedicated masterclass, or opt for the art of Indian bread making; samosas and pakoras; spicy fish; Indian tapas; traditional curry on the bone, even an Indian brunch.

Not solely the preserve of chalet girls in training, despite churning them and their soufflés out on its specialised Gap Year Courses for the past six years, Edinburgh New Town Cookery School offers classes from one-day workshops to six-month diploma courses and everything in between, including those tailored to children and teenagers; students seeking to up their game beyond instant noodles, and craft beer enthusiasts keen on matching their food with their drinks, as well as the aforementioned gap year option (which also equips graduates for work on yachts and in shooting lodges).

Its impeccable pedigree – founder Fiona Burrell boasts twelve years of experience at the much celebrated Leith’s School of Food and Wine and has judged the Mouton Cadet/Times Cook of the Year competition – also comes with commanding views over the Firth of Forth, thanks to its location on Queen Street.

And for the fun stuff, head to the Cocoa Black Chocolate and Pastry School in Peebles. Classes are taught by award-winning pastry chef and holder of the enviable title “UK World Chocolate Master” Ruth Hinks, who will show you how to keep your sweet tooth satisfied for life by conquering such delicacies as truffles, caramels and pralines, macarons, petits fours, cheesecakes, tarts and custard, and the fine art of French patisserie.

Courses range from a couple of hours to a couple of days and private group classes and even one-to-one tuition can be arranged.

About The Author

Lindsey Johnstone

Lindsey Johnstone is a freelance journalist based between Edinburgh and Paris. She has written for Scotsman.com, Wow 247, The List, The Skinny, The Scottish Sun, heraldscotland.com, Fest and The Local France on arts, travel, news, food, fashion and pop culture.

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