So, you have your mind set on attending your first course or hiring a cooking tutor to help you to develop some level of practical skill in the kitchen. Now, let's take some time to establish how much your learning experience will set you back, which will be determined by a number of factors.
1. Duration Of Course
As you might expect, one of the main factors in setting prices for cooking courses is the length of the tuition itself. For example, you would expect a term-long course to cost you more than a 7-day course, just like you would expect a week-long course to cost significantly more than a half-day course. Likewise, hourly lessons will be priced accordingly.
Of course, other factors come into play but, in general, you can expect a four to five-digit figure for a term, a three to four-digit figure for a week, and anything upward of £25 for a course completed in less than a day!
The culinary arts aren't cheap, but with the food and hospitality industry bringing in so much money it makes you wonder why more people don't want to learn how to cook and get themselves a culinary arts degree.
2. The Qualifications And Experience Of Your Teacher
Furthermore, the price of lessons will vary depending on how qualified your cooking tutor is. An ex-chef de partie with a decade of experience in a busy gastro-pub will most likely charge less for lessons than a famous chef who has worked internationally in fine dining gourmet restaurants - it is just common sense! Yet some high-profile chefs have set up culinary training schools for novices. Rick Stein, for example, has a school of culinary arts which teaches students how to cook seafood.
That is not to say, however, that a less-experienced person is a compromise in any way, shape or form, nor is someone who has not had the same level of lavish experiences within the food service industry.
Unless you are a teacher yourself, you may not have thought before about why people become teachers. For instance, why and how did your old sports teacher come to become a teacher, and not a successful athlete instead? And no it is not always because they weren't good enough!
While the passion is there, some people are better suited to passing on their knowledge to others rather than pursuing the subject themselves. It takes a very different type of person to teach about an activity or subject than it does to do it - and patience is just one of those things that distinguishes the two!
As a last example, could you imagine someone as deeply competitive and mentally driven as Lewis Hamilton being able to successfully teach another enthusiast how to drive a racing car (while still in the height of his career); someone who then might potentially go on to beat him in a Formula 1 race? I thought not!
In the same way, you don't tend to find young, successful chefs in their prime taking the time to teach others (other than their staff, of course) because they are simply too focused on their career to look beyond it.
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That said, you can find a number of culinary schools set up by the greats, like Rick Stein (as previously mentioned) and Raymond Blanc, which have the chefs' values rooted in them. You can find out more about some of these highly-respected cooking schools below.
3. The Location Of Your Course
While location shouldn't be too big a factor in the cost of your chosen course, you can expect to pay a premium when attending a class in central London, because naturally everything in the capital is more pricey than outside of the city!
When I refer to location, I do also mean the grounds on which your course will be held. Take for example a course held in a modern college, and one taking place in an 18th century manor house steeped in history. Which do you expect will be a more expensive location?
Of course, any place that has welcomed a wealth of famous guests, or has been standing for hundreds of years, will usually lend itself to a nicer setting in which to cook and therefore enable the organisers to charge more.
4. Other Key Factors To Consider
Other things that might have an effect on the price of the course you opt for are whether you get a group deal (some offer a reduction in price if you bring a friend), have coupons or vouchers (if they have spaces to fill, an organisation might advertise places at cut-down prices to lure customers in) and the cost of the food (including refreshments for participants) you will be using whilst on the course to make those delicious recipes on the menu.
As all foodies, or anyone who shops for groceries at the supermarket or the local food market for that matter, will know, ingredients don't come cheap! And depending on the class of course you choose to enroll on, you can expect the cost of the ingredients to fluctuate in accordance too.
Examples Of Cooking Schools
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxford
The cost of a cooking tutorial at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford can cost anywhere between £185 (for a half-day intensive session) and £1,775 (for five consecutive days). This cooking school is run by the infamous Monsieur Raymond Blanc himself and is set in a beautiful manor house, so this is probably on the higher end of the cooking schools spectrum.
Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan
Llanerch Vineyard in Vale of Glamorgan offers prices starting at £25 for a demonstration. The cookery school is run by educator Angela Gray, a chef who has catered for big names like Andrew Lloyd Webber, and offers a relaxed and informal setting whereby students can learn from the teacher and through interaction with eachother.
The Bertinet Kitchen, Bath
If you want to be taught by the best but for a smaller outlay than Le Manoir, then why not consider The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath which is run by french dough expert Richard Bertinet and requires a budget of £165 for beginners classes? You will learn about all things bread and pastry here, including pastry arts like how to make a buttery croissant worthy of a French patisserie!
Leith's School of Food and Wine, London
If money is no object, then Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London is at your disposal with a £21,000+ diploma on offer, achieved over three terms! Past students include the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton herself, the epitome of class. Now there is a course that really is fit for royalty! I bet Kate cooks up a delicious feast for the young prince and princess.
Private tutors are no different when you take into consideration the above, however they do have the advantage that they can pick and choose how they price their lessons because, ultimately, they are working alone.
While this can go against you in some ways (one-to-one lessons can be priced higher because of the value of one-to-one time), it can also work in your favour. For instance, you might be able bring the price down a little if consulting a self-employed tutor, or you might be able to discuss reductions for blocks of lessons.
Other benefits to hiring a private tutor are the flexibility they offer. In most cases, you will be welcomed into their kitchen where they will show you a range of cooking skills on display, but you might find a tutor who is happy to come and teach you at your home.
Furthermore, with one-to-one lessons, you can fit classes in around your busy schedule which means you don't have to miss out on doing something you love just because you work long hours. For instance, you might be able to book tuition on a weekend or on a weekday evening, which is something that you can look forward to while you are hard at work!
When searching for tutors online, you will more than likely find a pretty expansive range (as much as £9p/h-90p/h!), which makes it hard to ascertain what the average price of a beginner cooking lesson is. Sadly, it is very difficult to narrow this down to a specific price range, because of all of the above elements that come into play.
The key is to set out a realistic price in your head and start your search for a tutor with this firmly in place. You know what you can afford and what you can't, so rule out any tutors that come above (or fall below) your expected outlay. However, never forget that you do pay for the best, so if you find the perfect tutor who is just outside of your range, then consider stretching that little bit further for a richer experience in return.
When it comes to the content, you can expect to learn a wide range of fundamental things from your cooking lessons, like the difference between vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian and traditional diets, what artisan bakery is, the flavours of authentic Thai cooking, the secrets of French cuisine, the art of cooking Italian cuisine, how to make next level Italian dishes, what cookware you should have in your home cooking space, how to prep vegetables, how to prepare a chicken, grilling meats, what makes a perfect British roast, the technique for making a garlicky cordon blue, how to bake a melting chocolate fondant, how to pack flavour in a broth and how to make sushi, for example. That's date night or those weeknight meals sorted then!
Your guide may be able to teach you some things you never knew about the hospitality management industry too, like how you should ideally wear closed toe shoes when using a knife and cutting board in case of any accidents, and the terms that the chef uses to communicate with his or her staff. This includes words like 'pass', 'oui chef' and 'chit'.
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