The Bluebell's cooking school
PUBLISHED: 11:46 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:46 27 June 2017
Well, there were around 20 of us crammed into the kitchen of acclaimed Chigwell restaurant, The Bluebell, for its inaugural Cookery School, but what a brilliant time was had by all
Walking into The Bluebell I am immediately struck by the celebratory mood of the assembled group, who are chatting and laughing while knocking back the prosecco. At first I assume everyone must already know each other, such is the ease and conviviality, so it’s a surprise to learn that for most it’s the first time of meeting, having just arrived to attend the Cookery School that owner/head chef Gavin Maguire recently launched.
I don’t know what I was expecting, an afternoon of slogging over a hot stove MasterChef-style perhaps, but what we got was more akin to a fabulous lunch party where cooking was most certainly involved, but with drinking and eating given even greater priority. That the balance was such says much about Gavin, whose laid-back, easy-going approach to cooking sets him so far apart from the Gordon Ramsays of this world, it’s hard to believe they’re in the same profession.
In Gavin’s kitchen not a single expletive passed anyone’s lips as we were each given three scallops to shell for what would eventually form the centre piece of our starters, seared Cornish scallops, honey roast pork belly, Granny Smith apple, pea shoots and truffle dressing. While not everyone liked handling the shellfish, they all certainly enjoyed eating it soon after, at the beautifully laid table out back.
Plates cleared, Gavin then demonstrated how to make fresh tortellini stuffed with feta and butternut squash, with each of us taking it in turns to go up and try our hand. These were then whisked back into the kitchen to reappear all hot and buttery several minutes later with roast rump, slow cooked middle neck and minced lamb atop and local asparagus, samphire and globe artichoke as accompaniment. To say it was a winning combination would be something of an understatement.
With the wine flowing freely (a crisp Viogner and a robust Rioja, in case you were wondering), the party, I mean Cookery School, was by now in full swing. But the eventual arrival of coffee and petit fours signaled the end of our ‘lesson’. Not that anybody seemed in a terrible hurry to leave. But as we departed, we all agreed that Gavin’s school was unlike any we’d previously attended, being utterly delicious and great fun.
The Bluebell’s next Cookery School will be held on Thursday July 6 at 12.30pm, priced at £35 per person.
Get in touch
The Bluebell Restaurant
117 High Road
Chigwell IG7 6QQ
020 8500 6282