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Cooking in ‘The Kitchen’

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. For us, it most certainly is. Today’s kitchen is today’s family living space. It is where we hang out, cook, eat, relax, entertain and even work. Partly because we now have one large open plan space that houses several areas within it; the kitchen, the dining table and the sitting area. In effect, our whole family can hang out together while cooking, working or relaxing.

Recently I read an article about whether people thought the kitchen was the most important room in their home, results were pretty evenly divided. Those with smaller kitchens tended not to think that these rooms were the most important. Those with larger ones absolutely believed them to be the most important space in their home. Lifestyle was a large influence as well. Those who enjoy cooking (like me) and entertaining (again, like me!) viewed the kitchen as an important and integral space – contributing greatly to family life. This resonates with me so much as our new ‘kitchen’ (and I use the term ‘kitchen’ loosely here) has changed our family way of life quite considerably. From the outset, our renovation goal was to create a multifunctional space that would bring the family together and suit our lifestyle needs and wants. I really do feel that we have accomplished this.

When we first viewed the house, over 5 and half years ago, we knew the kitchen was one aspect that certainly had to change. It was small relative to the size of the house, had very limited work surface space, an old electric oven and a chimney with coal-fired Rayburn. Here are a few images just before the renovations began…

Now, we have a kitchen that allows us to cook in (properly), socialise around and enjoy family living. This space gives us the freedom to host our friends whilst still attending to my culinary creations. As such, I am very keen to get cooking and share some good times with close friends and family!

To help me on my way to achieving this, or at least help me to create some lovely food, I attended a cookery course at the newly opened ‘The Kitchen’ at Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa in Hampshire. The Kitchen offers a wide selection of cookery courses from bread making to cake baking, seasonal dinner party food and around the world cookery, food and wine matching and even the opportunity to cook and dine with a celebrity chef. Matt and I decided to attend The Seafood Chef cookery course. Some of you may know that we don’t eat meat (simply by personal choice) and so for us to learn more about fish preparation and fish cookery, would be so beneficial.

When we arrived at The Kitchen, it was immediately clear that the arrangement of the restaurant and kitchen is structured to mirror the new way of living that I described above. The kitchen is seen as an important and integral space that brings cooking, eating and socialising together. It is an open plan space that allows customers and cookery students to see each other and also watch the professional chefs hard at work in the main kitchen.

Our day started at 9:30am with coffee and some home-baked cinnamon pastries. We met with our accompanying “chefs” for the day, were introduced to our tutor and given an opportunity to see what we would be attempting to create throughout the day ahead.

Our tutor was Rob Cottam and he was fantastic! He instantly made us feel at home. He was friendly, humorous and very professional, an altogether ‘super- tutor’! (He did not pay me to say this, honest…!!). After running through the day’s planned events and the recipes that we would be cooking, we headed through the glass bi-folds from the restaurant into the cookery kitchen.

At every stage of the cooking process, Rob would demonstrate how to carry out each recipe. There were only 6 of us in the group which meant we had the ability to ask questions easily and could comfortably see how to do things.

Rob demonstrated the techniques and ran through the process. Once we knew what to do we took our places at our own individual kitchen stations and had a go…

We cooked 4 different recipes on the day, 3 of which we sat down and enjoyed over a glass of wine for lunch. My favourite dish of the day was the main course, the pan-fried Seabass with cider braised mussels, it was delicious! I am in fact hoping to cook this again but in my kitchen for some friends in two weeks time.

For those who would like to also give this recipe a go, please see below…. (it is very good – I would definitely recommend you do give it a chance!).

The course was a wonderful experience and I am grateful to have been asked by Chewton Glen to attend and share it with you all. Matt and I enjoyed learning new techniques and skills that we will hopefully employ in our new kitchen at home. Having such a great kitchen environment and space has inspired us to broaden our culinary horizons and this was the perfect way to start…!

Thanks for reading x

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