It’s official! Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes are up and running! Well, they’re up, in that the website has gone live. They start running in January, just in time to put a gift voucher on your Christmas list. 🙂
From the outset, I’ve wanted to make this cookery school different. It’s based in my home, for a start, rather than a shiny, clinical professional kitchen. Home is a 16th century timber-framed house with twisty Tudor chimneys and witch-repelling devices (you can never be too careful) and a sunny, roomy kitchen with a vast farmhouse table.
It has equally spacious bedrooms, one of them big enough for a game of five-a-side football and equipped with an en suite.
And yes, if you’re travelling some distance to attend a course, you can stay here if you’d like to. You’ll be very welcome.
It has two and a half acres of garden, including a kitchen garden and orchard, which at the right times of year we can raid for ingredients. It also has a small but contented flock of free-range hens who provide our eggs.
It has my husband, known on these pages as Him Outdoors, who has a wealth of gardening knowledge he is happy to share. He’s camera-shy but if you look carefully at the gallery on the website you might be able to pick him out, pushing a wheelbarrow.
There’s something else that makes Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes different. Someones, I should probably say. Suffolk abounds in fabulous producers and creatives and in the 10 years I’ve lived here I’ve got to know some of them well. I’m proud to call them my friends and I’d like to be able to showcase their talents and immense depth of knowledge.
Tutoring classes with me will be Steve Tricker of Truly Traceable, game expert and with his wife Lynn purveyor of truly magnificent pies; Sergio Muelle, the best artisan knife-maker I’ve ever met; and Simon Wooster of Wooster’s Bakery, who was making sourdough when most of us had never heard of it.
You’ll also have the chance to learn from Steph Clubb, pasta queen and gluten-free baking expert and the lovely Lindsey Dickson, whose exquisite photography and styling have earned her a large and loyal Instagram following.
They’ll be sharing their expertise in classes which I hope will provide something of interest to everyone. It’s all hugely exciting and also, frankly, scary. What if nobody comes? What if I don’t recoup the money I’ve put into it?
Well, in that case, I suppose I’ll be having a kitchen equipment yard sale but I think what’s on offer will tempt food lovers to book onto a course. Class sizes are small – no more than six people – so the courses will be intimate, relaxed and friendly. And fun.
Do please take time to look at the website. It’s beautiful. The design and photography (including the pictures here) are by my talented friend Catherine Grassin Hart. My gratitude to Mike and Nicola Warner, Karon Sanders and Chesca Cresswell, who’ve helped me road-test classes.
I’d also like to thank another good friend, whose patience has verged on the saintly, for IT support and hand-holding. Take a bow, Jamillah Knowles. Lunch is on me.
And to all my other friends out there, I should perhaps say that lunch is included in all the courses. Tie up your hair, put on your apron (provided!) and please join me in Mrs Portly’s Kitchen.