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Kitchen Table Cookery in Mells

Kitchen Table Cookery in Mells

Making my own pastry, a bit like changing a tyre or spatchcocking a chicken was the kind of thing I’d always filed under ‘Something Other People Do’ and largely ignored. Until, out of the blue, I found myself signing up for a pastry day with Kitchen Table Cookery.

Cookery classes run by Joanna Weinberg and Clare Liardet are small, informal and held in the rather cool surroundings of the Coach House Grill Room at the Talbot Inn in Mells (which also means perfect cappuccinos on tap).

Joanna is a cookery writer (columns for the Times, Red and Conde Naste Traveller Magazine and her own cookbooks) and Clare has cooked for professional kitchens including Justin de Blank, the famous pub The Engineer in Primrose Hill and now the Talbot. But, although they cook together professionally, they wanted Kitchen Table Cookery to be an extension of how they cook at home – in other words relaxed, spontaneous food that can be created by anyone. 

Jo begins by exploding the myth ‘only people with cold hands can make good pastry.’

There are two golden rules apparently. The first is to use very cold butter and handle the pastry as little as possible. Your go-to tool? A plastic dough scraper, bought for around £2 on Amazon. The second is never to make pastry in a rush, it needs time and patience, and firmly belongs in 'the old fashioned skill set,' says Jo.

Under the tutelage of Clare and Jo, with tips that actually seem to work – whacking the hell out of the butter by placing it between 2 sheets of paper and attacking it with a rolling pin, rubbing ‘as if you’re shuffling a deck of cards’ - I am amazed by my first batch of pastry which came together almost instantly and, I have to say, looked pretty damn perfect. We made three pastries – savoury, sweet and rough puff - before breaking for coffee and slices of apple tart.

Classes at Kitchen Table Cookery are built around the useful and every day. No yummy mummy footling around with souffles and napkin arrangements - there's Gluten and Dairy Free, One for the Fellas (cooking for men, either a 3 course Sunday lunch or dinner party), the cutely named Superhero Food (which focuses on high nutrient ingredients ), catering for a weekend party. 

Most Tuesdays Clare and Jo also run the Seasonal Club in the Talbot’s sitting room where they’ll take one seasonal ingredient – say kale or oranges  - and demonstrate different ways to cook it. The idea is to blast you out of any culinary rut, it costs just £10 and has a cult following in these parts.

I've clocked up a few cooking classes of late and what I love about this one is the informality - it's like cooking with your mates - the surroundings, which are truly gorgeous and a little decadent, not to mention the delicious wine-fuelled lunch which follows a morning of intensive cooking. Without any apparent sweat, stress or humiliation you can conquer any phobias and reinvigorate your everyday cooking. What’s not to love?



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