Category Archives: Events

A Positive Outlook on Outcook – Cookery Classes in the North East

I was recently invited to try out the new cookery school in the North of England – Outcook Home Cookery School, based in Alnwick. I jumped at the chance to attend the Decadent Dinners class with fellow blogger, Kate from High Tea and Heels.

outcook cookery school alnwick

The classes were taught by professional chef Emma, who was full of knowledge, top tips and was just plain lovely.

outcook cookery school alnwick There was five of us in the class and we started off the day, really relaxed with a cup of tea and a look over the menu.  We then stepped into the kitchen and got cooking straight away. The kitchens themselves were gorgeous – well they would be, as Outcook is based above Outlook – a premium kitchen store in the town.

We started with something ‘simple’ – blinis – put proper ones, not the ones you see in the M&S ads, but real pint-sized morsels of loveliness. What’s great, is that the day is really relaxed and though I immediately fell behind (I blame my faulty scales, which were of course quickly swapped!), everyone’s on the same page and just there to have an enjoyable day, whilst picking up a few cooking techniques.

The main good thing about a cooking course, is of course, getting to eat everything you make! outcook cookery school alnwick

Outcook, not only provide you with the ingredients on the course, but all the trimmings, so these blinis were served up with fresh smoked salmon from Swallowfish (great local fishmongers from Craster) and creme fraiche. Not only that, they gave us a glass of Champagne to enjoy with it!

outcook cookery school alnwick

We then tried our hand at mussels, which to most of the people on the course was a great dish to try, as most of us were too nervous cooking this ourselves at home. Emma answered all our questions about washing, choosing mussels and the dangers of cooking with fresh seafood. Our mussels were served up in a chilli and Champagne sauce. Throughout each step, we were given tips from chopping up garlic to how the mussels should look when cooked.

outcook cookery school alnwick

In the fun but packed morning, we also rustled up chocolate pots, with Cointreu cooked oranges and a classic Dauphinoise potatoes. These were all made on the day but packed up so we could enjoy them at home later that night. A full day of meals – all on one cooking course, with all the ingredients thrown in – fantastic value for money.

outcook cookery school alnwick

outcook cookery school alnwick

By the way, as professional and careful as ever – I did pause to pose. Those fingers are thankfully, not missing!

We had a break for lunch, eating up our creations – mussels as well as trying our teacher’s Dauphinoise potatoes, both amazing. PLUS all served with wine, provided by Outcook. Eating and wine makes me so HAPPY!

outcook cookery school alnwick What was so so lovely, was that two of the people on our course had been given the cookery school experiences as a birthday gift and one of their chefs had specially created a birthday cake as a treat. It was such a nice surprise – and a delicious dessert for our lunch!

outcook cookery school alnwick

We were given a bit of a break to look around the sweet little town of Alnwick before heading back into the kitchen for some more mastercheffy work. We got to work on a BIG lush salmon, fresh that morning, delivered to the school from Swallowfish. Here’s me giving the fish a buttery massage.

outcook cookery school alnwick

We then all worked together on making the perfect Hollandaise sauce, one with lemon and one with white wine vinegar, with a bit of insider knowledge on how restaurants deliver this. We got to sample both sauces for a mini taste test and enjoy it with some perfectly cooked asparagus.

Another small thing that I haven’t mentioned about the day, is that the kitchen is full of helpers – there to give a hand and to do ALL the washing up! Hurrah!

Finally, we headed homes, with our bellies full, our minds full of knowledge and a bag of delicious food, we’d made ourselves to enjoy later.

Here’s my evening meal of salmon, salad and Dauphinoise potatoes…

outcook cookery school alnwick followed by these yummy chocolate pots, that the boy couldn’t get enough of and asked for seconds.

outcook cookery school alnwick

Overall, the courses are very well put together. Everything is provided for you, even the aprons and Tupperware, so all you have to do is turn up – though I’d recommend bringing a cardie. Thought I’d be boiling hot in the kitchen but it was a wee bit nippy – although Outcook provided you with a non stop supply of tea and coffee all day!

The courses are great for beginners to those who are wanting to impress their guests with more of their cooking flair. As two of the students that day demonstrated, it’s also a great present. Ideal for someone who might have everything. It’s a great day out, with friends, as a couple or a bigger party.

Myself – I’m sure I’ll be booking in again for the chef Emma’s speciality – game!

View all the courses and find out more about Outcook on their website here:


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Blackfriars at the Chef’s Academy, Newcastle College Review

What a delight! I was invited to the Chef’s Academy to experience a meal in association with Blackfriars. For me, the Chef’s Academy is a hidden little restaurant gem in Newcastle City Centre.

It’s within the Lifestyle Academy building in Newcastle College and way up on the third floor, which means it has great views of the city.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle

The Chef’s Academy food is served up by the college’s student chefs and the venue often does collaborations with various top regional restaurants. This time around, Blackfriars chefs came in and helped to support the students in serving up a meal they could all be proud of. The menu looked fantastic and with seven courses for only £20, it was a complete bargain.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle

We started with home-made bread, followed by an amuse bouche – spring pea pannacotta which was deliciously refreshing and sweet. All the dishes were incredibly well presented too.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle

The spelt risotto of roasted shallot and artichoke, Ribblesdale ‘Parmesan’, truffle was gorgeous.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle

This was followed by beetroot-cured salmon, cucumber, cream cheese and mousse. Now I have the salmon usually when I visit Blackfriars and it never disappoints. The presentation was immaculate and I was delighted by various little elements on the plate such as the cucumber jelly. I could have eaten this dish twice over.
blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle

The main course was seared Northumbrian lamb loin, crispy belly, carrot, Lowna Dairy Crowdie, basil puree. By this stage, I couldn’t believe that these were student chefs. It was all Blackfriars quality and perfectly done.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle review

With each course, it all seemed to get better and better and the dessert was really just outstanding. Apparently they serve this three-tiered brownie at Blackfriars, but I’ve never have it as I’m addicted to their sticky toffee pudding. However, after tasting this for the first time, it’s going to be my dessert of choice the next time I visit. If you’ve not had it before, it’s worth a visit – just to taste this. I say this and usually I’m not even a brownie person.

blackfriars newcastle college chefs academy food restaurant newcastle reviewOverall, I was so impressed as I’m sure you can tell by this rather glowing review. I have to say though, I’m not sure what it’s like each time as the students do work different nights and the college restaurant works with different eateries so there’s not really any stability in that way. That can be a bit of a shame as I would just love to have exactly this same meal again. However, it does mean that everything is constantly evolving and that coming here can be just that bit more fun than going to an average restaurant in town. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect the next time I come, BUT I can’t wait to find out!

For me, there’s several benefits to coming here. One, the views from the restaurant. Two, the service – the young staff here are also in training (and our young waitress was so lovely and sweet!). Three, the future talent – it’s nice to support young chefs before they hit the big time and for them, I guess it’s always nice to have a packed restaurant full of appreciative diners. Four, the price range – honestly, all their meals are a complete bargain here. For example, a two course lunch is only £6.50.

If you want to find out more and book yourself in, visit the Chef’s Academy website to view the menu and the visiting chefs –


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