Woodspeen Cookery Class, John Campbell IS a patient egg!

People, my lovely wonderful readers,  this has got to be the best present ever, and I mean EVER!  A cookery course with John Campbell where you get him actually teaching you, teasing you, filling you full of more learning than any sad little brain can comprehend but I am sure you would get it.  For example did you know that Diazepam is closely related to the skin of some red wine grape, this fact amused me.

Eight people attended with one Michelin start teacher, Chef John Campbell, helped by a delightful member of staff who we all wanted to take home with us as he made sure all the ingredients were ready and the place was tidy.

If you go onto the website  The Woodspeen or   Cookery School you will find a huge range of courses ranging from £40 upwards.  The course I was very kindly given was the Weekend Kitchen which meant that I couldn’t watch Saturday Kitchen, a programme on which John Campbell appears, irony again.  Interestingly, to me, at courses I have attended at other places the attendees have often been given the course as a gift, on this one most people had bought the course themselves.  On the other hand it would make a fantastic present for a friend or family member plus it can be given with the proviso that the giver gets to taste the out come.

Perfect giving. This is because not only do you get to cook a wonderful meal on the day but you have enough to take away with you to cook another meal!  Hells Bells!  There are also some very special courses coming up including a stalking course which sounds fascinating, getting up incredibly early, making and eating breakfast in the woods and seeing what you can find for your dinner.  He is also going to be doing a foraging course which is up there for me along with the fish course.

You will see underneath some pictures of the food I made, we will skim rapidly past the fact that my mackerel dish was presented ‘like a plane crash’ because in Michelin food terms that is a phrase of endearment.  What I will say that it tasted fantastic, as did the bread and the wild mushroom risotto.

What I particularly loved about this course wasn’t just the amazing teaching kitchen, the stunning ingredients and the very friendly atmosphere, it was the amount of knowledge John had. He is on my list of top ten easiest interviews for the radio, I just turn on the machine and do my knitting for an hour.  Actually I don’t know so I would probably eat but you get the idea.  He never minds answering questions however inane or complicated (or he is a GREAT actor).

Ok some facts that got thrown in free.

  • shop bought bread still ferments after you eat it which is why you bloat
  • yeast is a nugget of power
  • yeast above 30 degrees is like a teenager in Ibiza (may have got that wrong mind, dont forget his brain is bigger than mine
  • shallots, don’t use the round ones or you will curse him, use banana or echelon shallots
  • build flavour, that is what cooking is all about
  • comfrey wrapped around a broken bone decreases healing time by 2 weeks plus applied to chicken pox prevents scars



John talking and us pretending to understand 🙂


John’s bread going onto the board


MY mushroom risotto, it tasted great


My bread before

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My bread after



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Tip, always salt your fish before cooking and leave it for a bit, he demonstrated on two fillets to show us the difference and believe it or not the chef knew his stuff.

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Harrumph, the plane crash, remember in chef terms that means amazing.  Mackerel on unseen horseradish creme fraiche with pickled cucumber (they are amazingly easy to make and fantastic to eat)  Oh and I forgot to tell you about the baked beetroot with aromatics for an hour which went so brilliantly with the mackerel.

Without a doubt this course was amazing fun and a brilliant bargain, get it as a present for someone you love enough to invite yourself round to eat that evening or get it for yourself.  I know people who have done several courses and I can see why.


Finally, as always a picture that has nothing to do with the review.  This is a picture of Elton Johns first ever typewriter.  I need to sell it to raise funds for @westberksmencap West Berkshire Mencap so if anyone knows him or someone that knows him can he confirm that it was his to increase its provenance. Thanks







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