In February 2017, I attended the two week Vegan Diploma at Demuths Cookery School in Bath and I feel that this anniversary calls for a review! With it being a year on, I can now look back and consider how this diploma affected me and helped me get to where I am today.
I want to begin by thanking Rachel Demuth, Lydia Downey and Helen Lawrence for teaching me over those two weeks and also for their continued support over the past year. You can truly feel the passion they have for their jobs and see that they want to impart their knowledge to their pupils.
At the beginning of the course, we all gathered around a table for coffee and biscuits to meet everyone and discuss the week ahead. It was a great opportunity to get talking with the rest of the group – there were 8 of us in total, so the classes felt very personal. We were given recipe sheets that we would use throughout the day and file away to keep at the end? – I still heavily rely on this folder, it’s like a bible for cooking instructions and recipes.
When we got in the kitchen we began by covering the basics, the same way you would begin at a catering college. We were put in different pairs each day and the atmosphere soon became relaxed and open, everyone had a good laugh and shared personal experience and knowledge with each other. The crowd was mixed: there were some vegan and some not, a few people worked in the industry and others just had an interest in food. This was great, as we had a lot to learn from each other!
Each day we made a few recipes, which we would then photograph (most of us started Instagram accounts on the spot – a great way to start your online portfolio with plenty of food there to capture) and then we would eat it all for lunch! This was a great routine, because it gave us time to discuss the food and discover the differences in each other’s palettes. It was amazing to see how one recipe could generate such a variety of dishes. We would then get back into the kitchen to cook more food, which we would eat for dinner and were then often loaded up with food to take away with us.
Every morning we started the same: with coffee and biscuits and a brief overview. Then we would begin more cooking. It was the perfect balance of cooking, tasting, photography and socialising. Some evenings a group of us would go to the pub afterwards and I have since stayed in contact with a few of them – it is lovely to have made contacts for life, plus a few more Instagram feeds to drool over!
Each day featured a different cuisine, including Indian, Thai, Italian, etc. Within each cuisine, we covered cookery skills such as bread baking, pastry, pasta making, fermentation, sourdough starters, spice blends, vegan cheese and desserts.
We used many different methods of cooking and I found one of the most interesting (and tasty) parts was deep frying handmade pasta sheets – YUM!
At the weekend we had a break, so we were ready and rested to start again on the Monday. I went back to work in Sheffield for two days at Burgerlolz (my first proper kitchen job), so for me it really was a food packed couple of weeks! Even after the first week, I instantly felt more knowledgable on food and cooking and I also had a new found confidence in the kitchen. I have learnt certain skills and tips that will stay with me throughout my career!
The second week began and we were all showing off our new skills. The kitchen felt calmer, the cooking smoother.
On the last day of the diploma, our pair work ended and we were given a bunch of recipes to cook by ourselves. The teachers were supervising us throughout the day to examine how we were now working and the results were amazing: