The Model Goes To Cookery School!

A few weeks ago I went on the most amazing trip with Joico Haircare to the Raymond Blanc Cookery School. It’s at Le Manoir in Oxfordshire, Raymond Blanc’s incredibly luxurious (and expensive!) hotel and restaurant. Oh, how I wish that I’d written this when it was all fresh in my mind – but L.A. and essay-writing got in the way, so here I am some time later trying to re-live every delicious little moment of the experience!

And an experience it was. I don’t want to sound like a twonk, but I really did find my cookery day to be quite life-changing. I’m a keen cook – I cook every single day, give or take the odd travel day or “too knackered” moment of weakness – but the Cookery School experience just made me so much more keen! I realised that I had been stuck in a bit of a rut, recipe-wise, just churning out the same thing over and over again. Not that my dishes weren’t lovely and healthy – they were just getting a bit repetitive! I also realised that I had a couple of cooking “phobias” that were restricting my culinary prowess: 1) I was scared of separating eggs and avoided ANY recipe that required whites or yolks! 2) I was scared of fish. Yes – scared of fish. I just didn’t know what to do with it! Tuna steak? Fine. Smoked Salmon? Fine. Seafood such as prawns and scallops? Fine. Mackerel, Herring, Cod, Brill, Dover Sole, and all of the other fish in the sea? Clueless!

Here are my little Mackerel fillets cooking away (I was partnered up with the lovely Alex from Hello! Magazine, so can’t take all the credit unfortunately!)

Here’s the finished dish – with sliced fennel, rocket and a lime and soy dressing! Amazing!

Obviously I have to have a picture of myself posing with said dish:

Our chef instructor for the day (Mark Peregrine) didn’t show us how to cook every type of fish, just Mackerel, but his words of wisdom and quick little tips and tricks meant that I came away feeling pretty confident about preparing any of them! I realised that food is just that – it’s not scary or difficult, not at the level we need to be at just to prepare a tasty meal at home. So you try to poach some eggs and they go wrong? What’s the worst that can happen? You’ve wasted 50p, or you’ve got watery/hard/gross-looking eggs to eat. It’s not the end of the world!

I’d like to point out, though, that my (our) poached eggs were perfect; you can see them below with fresh asparagus and spinach.

I went on the “Nutrition” day course, which involves cooking healthy food with great flavours and outlines the principles of eating for excellent health. Mark Peregrine worked alongside nutritionist Natalia Traxel to demonstrate some brilliant dishes and explain why they were healthy. I did learn some very interesting nutritional facts which I’ll be sharing with you in my usual dribs and drabs! I’ll also post up some of the recipes that I tried – an incredible chocolate mousse and a fresh, light Mackerel salad.

I could go on and on about this Cookery School – I think that it’s the bee’s knees. Not only does it boost your confidence in the kitchen, the nutrition course helps you to understand the basic building blocks in our diet and why we need them. It also busts some of the annoying myths that float about these days – myths like all carbs being bad for you and avocados being terrible because they’re high in fat. What would be amazing would be if something like this course was available to every single person once they reached sixteen or eighteen – simple, easy-to-assimilate information and some basic (ish) cookery skills that mean you can feed yourself (and your family) properly for life.

You can see the various Cookery School courses that are available on the website:

They don’t come cheap (I think the nutrition course is £400 for the day!) but they are worth every single penny. I think that this would be an excellent thing to put down on your wedding list if you were getting married – get a load of people to club together and treat you! You have to work together in pairs, though, so if you’re prone to bickering…

Thank you so much to Joico for taking me on this trip – it really has re-fuelled my passion for cooking and inspired me to try loads of new things! (I know I cheated with the bread by buying a machine – but surely that’s better than not making bread at all?!)

(Me and my cooking buddy Alex, looking pleased as punch! We made the best Creme Caramel of all, but the most rubbish chicken dish. Swings and roundabouts, people, swings and roundabouts..)

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  1. Valentina
    April 27, 2012 / 7:25 am

    Thanks for your very interesting blog, I read your e-mails every morning!!

  2. April 27, 2012 / 8:53 am

    Ruth, how thrilling that you were able to have this experience! (Color me a tiny bit green, but only in the nicest way possible, truly!!!) And I really do hope that we, your readers, get some of the benefits of this experience (ahem…). I’ve so been looking forward to more of the eating properly, good new ideas of recipes or just guidance to get out of food rut, here on this site. I have no idea why my husband and I are so stuck on, as you say, the repetitiveness, but we are! (I can see another idea for a slew of overly long posts on my blog…sigh.)
    Am soooo looking forward to some goodies of your experience coming our way! And the chocolate and creme caramel…well, they’ll just have to wait for a bit for me. At doctor’s office yesterday, I saw that I’d lost 15 lbs…a tad over a “stone”? xxx

    • Ruth
      April 28, 2012 / 10:41 am

      That’s amazing Upa!!!!!! xxx

  3. Love in a mist
    April 27, 2012 / 12:22 pm

    Ahh bless you Ruth, you look pleased as punch with your fish dish, looks very professional too :-) xx I agree proper cookery classes should be compulsory at 16-18, unless you’ve got a mum who’s a good cook then no one is teaching the younger generation ( ohh ark at me lol!) how to cook properly.
    On a totally random note, just thought I’d let you know about a blog I’ve come across recently, not really beauty related but a hilarious read all the same, it called grumpy young women, I especially liked the article regarding being approached by age inappropriate men, it’s a running joke with me and my friend, anyway Have a read ladies/Ruth if you get chance xxxx

    • Ruth
      April 28, 2012 / 10:37 am

      @Love ha! I will! xx

  4. Jo
    April 27, 2012 / 3:29 pm

    you should post more food related things. ;)

  5. Megs
    April 27, 2012 / 6:38 pm

    you ladies look so similar, sisters almost :)

    • Ruth
      April 28, 2012 / 10:27 am

      Ha! Someone else said that – think it was Mr AMR! xx

  6. Nadia
    April 27, 2012 / 7:46 pm

    mmmm everything you’ve made looks very appetising especially the mackerel! Is there anything your not good at Ruth! Although the cost of the nutrition course made me :O I’ve been wanting to do it as it’s the best kind of knowledge you can possess when it comes to achieving all round health etc. looking forward to your posts on nutrition, we’re getting a glimpse now of your healthy diet that contributes to that glowing skin!! need to find out about Indian food cookery courses as will be getting married soon and am clueless:D Great post x

  7. Vera
    April 27, 2012 / 8:08 pm

    Ah, As a Portuguese , when I first went to live abroad I felt the opposite about fish. I could only cook cod (Portuguese traditional fish), mackerel, herring… Meat, I could only fry or grill:x Oh, and sauces, no way – olive oil and lemon juice are the only things I know :x
    That’s sounds a very nice plan to do together with friend or family, too :)

  8. Eileen
    April 28, 2012 / 2:21 am

    That poached egg & asparagus look fantastic! Sounds like a wonderfully fun, confidence building & informative class.

    Thanks for the post. Maybe one day I too will overcome my fear of cooking a bland fish fillet…

  9. Jean
    April 30, 2012 / 4:56 am

    aww, you look so cute. As much as I love your fashion/beauty posts, it’s so refreshing and fun to see other aspects of your life :)

    • Ruth
      April 30, 2012 / 11:38 am

      Thanks Jean! It’s good fun sharing them too! x

  10. June 19, 2012 / 10:47 am

    This sounds fabulous! I would love to find a cookery course that focussed on healthy dishes! Lovely little post! x

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