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Some of the best cookery schools in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 16:35 13 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:09 15 March 2018

River Cottage cookery school

River Cottage cookery school


With its abundance of world-class produce Dorset is the perfect place to hone your cookery skills and, as Sue Quinn discovers, there’s a course for everyone – from hedgerow foraging and cake decorating to learning some kitchen basics

Oxfords bakeryOxfords bakery

Oxfords Bakery School of Bread

Fourth-generation artisan baker Steven Oxford, whose family has run Oxfords Bakery since 1911, has expanded his baking classes for 2014. His ever popular traditional English baking course (£85, 12-6pm each Wednesday) will continue, covering traditional baking methods and fermentation, with students using top-quality ingredients to make around six different bread products on the day. He has now also added Sourdough (taught by well-known Dorset baker Aidan Chapman), Italian (taught by television chef Isabella Franco) and Beautiful Buns (covering enriched dough and home baking) to his list of courses. Contact Oxfords for details of times and prices of classes.

For further information and online bookings visit:


Address: Oxfords Bakery, Alweston, Sherborne DT9 5JR


River Cottage Cookery School

Courses at River Cottage, part of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s empire, are aimed at novice cooks through to professionals. Located at River Cottage HQ, set on sixty idyllic acres on the Devon/Dorset border just outside Axminster, the school’s upcoming classes include the hugely popular one and four-day Cookery Courses (£230 and £870 respectively) that cover a host of cooking techniques for sweet and savoury dishes. Other courses over coming months include one-day Cakes and Sweet Pastry (£185) and Nose to Tail (£230) courses. For something a bit different there’s Hedgerow Foraging (£185) and Wild Food Cookery (£230). Lessons are not only delicious but reflect the River Cottage philosophy of using local, seasonal produce and a nose-to-tail approach.

For further information and bookings visit:

Contact: or 01297 630 300

Address: River Cottage HQ, Trinity Hill Road, Axminster EX13 8TB


Christine McFadden Cookery Courses

Christine McFadden, aka the Dorset Foodie, runs hands-on classes for all skill levels at her home in Littlebredy, near Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. She recently achieved second place in the Best Cookery Tutor category of the UK Cookery School Awards. Classes cover a wide choice of topics that reflect Christine’s first-hand knowledge of some of the world’s great cuisines. Her Veggie Special classes are immensely popular with vegetarians, and she also runs skills-based classes that include fish preparation, pasta making, soft cheese and baking. Classes run from 10–3.30pm and cost around £120, which includes tutored tastings, a recipe folder and lunch. New classes this season include Eyes on Pies (21 March) and Gluten-Free Baking (28 March).

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 01308 482784

Address: Church Walk, Littlebredy, Dorchester DT2 9HG


White Pepper Cookery School

Award-winning chef and tutor Luke Stuart offers more than 40 courses at his cookery school housed in a converted bakery, set in picturesque countryside within easy reach of Poole. There are courses for all tastes and abilities, with his signature classes making the most of the school’s produce-rich location. Have a go at seafood dishes (Beside the Sea £165), bread making (Bread at Bere Farm £147) and French patisserie (£147) courses, which are coming up soon. His fun cookery courses for children and students are also a hit, and he also offers bespoke classes for families, friends and other groups. Courses range from 2 hours sessions to 4 weeks.

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 01202 280 050

Address: Bere Farm, Wareham Road, Lytchett Matravers, Poole BH16 6ER


The Olive Tree Cookery School

Giuseppe Sinaguglia trained in Sicily and worked extensively in hotels throughout Italy before moving to the UK, so classes reflect his passion for Italian cookery. Using local fish, meat, game, fruit and vegetables where possible, upcoming courses include Seafood (preparing, filleting and cooking fresh fish, shellfish and crustaceans), Pizza and Italian Breads, Fresh Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto and a weekend beginner’s course designed to give novices confidence in the kitchen. Set in the beautiful Purbeck hills, a few miles from Corfe Castle, the school is perfectly located for students to combine cookery classes with a peaceful getaway. Prices start at £45 for a 3-hour morning or evening class through to £310 for an intensive three-day course.

For further information and online bookings visit:

or call 01929 477260

Address: The Old Barn, Cats Eye Cottage, Norden, Corfe Castle BH20 5DT


Lesley Waters Cookery School

The celebrity chef brings her trademark quirky and relaxed style to cookery classes at Abbot’s Hill Farm, in the heart of West Dorset countryside. She offers a range of hands-on classes and demonstration days to students of all abilities, with an emphasis on dishes made from simple, fresh ingredients that can easily be recreated at home. Upcoming classes include Stress Free Entertaining and Modern British demonstration days, as well as Starters and Puddings, Spring Kitchen, Gluten and Dairy Free and By the Sea hands-on days. There’s also a two-day Shine course designed to “boost your wellbeing and zest for life.” Dorset Magazine readers can enjoy a 10% discount by using the voucher code SPECIAL10 at the online checkout. Prices range from £20 for a half-day demo to £260 for a two-day course

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 0844 800 4633

Address: Abbot’s Hill Farm, Closworth Road, Halstock BA22 9SY


Flavours School of Cookery

Children and adults enjoy a wide range of daytime and evening classes at this popular Bournemouth cookery school run by chef Des Burke and his wife Amy. Guest chefs from around Dorset teach classes according to their specialist fields, with both hands-on and demonstration lessons available covering 30 different topics. Children’s cookery classes are particularly popular. Upcoming classes include Big Cook Little Cook (for children under 7 and an accompanying adult, £12), Taste of Thailand (£65), French Patisseries (£85), Spanish Tapas (£70) and Caribbean Cuisine (£70) to name a few. Flavours also runs cookery clubs for children and adults comprising a course of classes run over 6 weeks.

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 01202 424445

Address: 1097 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6BQ


Taher’s Cooking School

Taher Jibet, chef proprietor of The Dining Room restaurant in Weymouth, runs cookery classes for beginner and advanced home cooks. Held in his restaurant kitchen in small groups, the courses run for around five hours on a weekday morning (days vary), and finish with students sitting down to enjoy a lunch of what they have cooked. The Basic Course (£70) teaches novices how to cook basic dishes, knife skills and an understanding of flavour combinations. The Advanced Class is for accomplished home cooks who are keen to learn new kitchen tricks, presentation techniques and timings for a successful dinner party.

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 01305 783008

Address: The Dining Room Restaurant, 67 St Mary Street, Weymouth DT4 8PP



Chocolate lovers can get their fix by taking a master class or workshop run by luxury chocolate company Chococo at its Purbeck headquarters. Children’s workshops (7 years+) run for one hour during holiday periods and might include decorating lollies, dipping honeycomb into chocolate, making popcorn truffles and creating chocolate pictures. For adults, two hour classes cover essential chocolate-making techniques like making ganache and truffles, and learning how to temper chocolate at home. Chococo also offers bespoke master classes for groups of 8 or more.

For further information visit:

Contact: or call 01929 422748

Address: Chococo, Cocoa Central, Commercial Road, Swanage, BH19 1DF


Penningtons School of Cake Artistry

Dawn Pennington believes anyone can learn the art of cake decorating and gain the skills to create a truly professional finish. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled stimulating hobby, the confidence to create a cake business from home or you’re a professional pastry chef who needs to build on their piping skills, she has a course for you. Upcoming courses include sugar paste, royal icing, wedding cake production and cupcake design or sugar craft flowers. Day and evening courses are available, starting at £65 for a four-week beginner’s cake decorating course to £160 for a 6-week wedding cake course.

For further information and online bookings visit:

Contact: or call 07967 733128

Address: 42 Anchor Road, Bear Cross, Bournemouth, BH11 9H


Also worth considering

Learn how to make halloumi, mascarpone, butter and mozzarella at Cutting The Curd’s pop-up cheese-making classes (£65). Contact Louise Talbot on 07795 436707 for upcoming classes in Dorset.

If you’re part of the raw food trend or keen to discover more about preparing raw plant-based meals, Radiant on Raw offers one-day classes (£75) in Shaftesbury. Contact Gabriela Lerner on 07545 501124 for details.

Julia Cotton, a former caterer on Hollywood film and TV sets, runs a relaxed and informal cookery school, Julia’s Kitchen, from her home near Poole Harbour. For more details visit or call 01202 252481.


Yayu Slocock, author of just-released Yayu’s Simply Indonesian cookery book, holds six-week courses in Indonesian, Thai or Japanese cuisine in Wimborne (£225–£300). For more information and to book a class call The Minster Press on 01202 882277 or email


Well-known Dorset chef and caterer Lisa Osman, founder of catering and food events company Provisio, has just opened a stunning new countryside cookery school, All Hallows House, at Wimborne St Giles. For details of upcoming courses visit her website


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