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Cookery Lessons

I'm not usually smiling when this happens

I'm not usually smiling when this happens

I’m not a natural cook at all. I usually have to follow a recipe with the exception of a few staple dishes that I have been cooking for years. I’m good at baking but I think that’s because it’s all about measurements and I tend to treat cooking like a science.

My husband has the ability to whisk something together without consulting a book or the internet and even when he does follow a recipe he always confidently substitutes ingredients and methods. The only thing I beat him on is presentation; his food, more often than not, resembles an active volcano.

I wonder if it is practice or just a natural ability and mindset that makes some people more instinctual at cooking.  I envy those who casually say, “I’ll just lob a bit more of that in”.

Should I just accept this short-coming or is there anything I can do about it? Would a cookery class give me confidence in the kitchen? With this in mind I decided to see what Ballmaloe Cookery School had to offer – for when I’m not completely smashed of course.

Ballmaloe is probably the most well-known cookery school in Ireland. Courses start at €70 and can go up to €10,000 for a 12 week certificate.

If you want to be taught by Rachel Allen herself, her ‘home-cooking class’ costs €575 for a two and a half day course.

For €85 you can have a masterclass in pizza-making and there are various half-day courses for €115 in subjects ranging from Mexican food, sushi made simple, tapas and gluten free cooking.

If you fancy learning from big name chefs, for €255 you can get a one day lesson from celebrity chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi or Jean Pierre Moulle.

Have you had cookery lessons and were they any help?


  1. I have a friend who was a terrible cook – she was actually terrified of cooking – until she bought a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food. She worked her way through it and now she’s a lot more confident. I know it’s not quite what you were after but it’s a lot cheaper than a course at Ballymaloe!

    Funny enough my mum is like you in that she’s fantastic at baking but she can’t ‘do’ normal cooking at all.

  2. Hey Rercy, you’ve cooked for me manys a time and I can firmly state that you’re a wonderful cook. Either that, or you hide your lack of natural talent well… 🙂

  3. I think most of it is, as you say, mindset and practice – mainly a willingness to lob something in and see what happens! If you enjoy the results, you’ll know it can be used (or tweaked) for again; if not, you’ll learn from the error. I’m very much a lobber-inner – the only time I’ve followed a recipe properly was the first time I made bread. Since then I’ve experimented with my baking too… my presentation, like your husband’s, isn’t up to much, but I enjoy the process 🙂

  4. I’ve had a good few cookery courses and can recommend 2 very highly, The first being The Kitchen in the Castle in Howth Castle, they have a huge range of class’s to suit all level. The second is Dublin Cookery school headed up by ex Ballymaler Lynda Booth, class’s are relaxed and informal

  5. I did a one day course with Kevin Dundon a few years ago – it was really fantastic, with loads of no nonsense tips – like don’t bother with unsalted butter when baking, it’s fine to use ordinary salted!!

  6. Yes! Sent my partner on a fabulous How to Keep Chickens at Ballymaloe, and he is inspired to get hens! Posting about is very soon! X

  7. Btw – Hazel McFadden at The Kitchen in the Castle, howth, is a gifted cook and teacher – she taught me so much