Dublin Cookery Schools cover a broad range of subjects and offer courses for beginners to professionals. Whether you want to be a full-time chef, make mid-week dinners more exciting or favour an outing with a glass of wine where you pick up a few cooking tips, you’ll find something below.
HOW TO CHOOSE A COOKERY SCHOOL
What would you like to learn? With cookery schools, it is quite literally a case of ‘horses for courses’! If you want to know how to make a loaf of soda bread, a pizza base and a scone, a straightforward baking evening or day course would be ideal. If you want to work as a professional baker in full employment, look for a course designed for professional chefs that teaches contintental techniques and baker’s percentages. If you and the girls or boys feel the need for a night out with tastings of dishes and a glass of wine, choose a cooking demonstration rather than a class. Ask for a syllabus of recipes so you know exactly what you’ll be able to cook once you get home. Make sure you get a set of tested, proofed recipe notes with clear instructions to take home so you can replicate the recipes exactly.
PROFESSIONAL COOKERY COURSES
To ensure that you make a living from cooking you’ll need a Dublin cookery school that offers a professional course. Do you want to study full-time or part-time? It is a significant financial and time investment so check if the cookery school arranges a restaurant placement for you after the course so you can earn your money back if that is important to you. Ask for contact details for previous students – if they have returned to their previous jobs and are not working in the catering or restaurant industry, you need to ask why. If they are working as caterers or in ski chalets (both good options if that’s what you want to do) and you want to be a chef in a professional kitchen, you need to consider that also. Go and visit the cookery school, picture yourself standing there, knife and whisk in hand, chopping and stirring away for months – will you be happy? Plot the route from home to the cookery school at the time of the morning and evening that you will travel, checking the timings on Google maps so you have a realistic idea of the time commitment. Dublin traffic won’t be a deterrent if both the cooking school and career is the right one for you.
A professional cooking course is an expensive commitment in time and money and if you want a paid career out of it you will be competing with people who may have left school in their late teens. A professional course may not be enough to secure a job if you are thirty plus and your lifelong dream to be a chef may end up as just that. If you are a mature cooking student who wants a career in the industry, call prospective employers (catering companies, restaurants, cafés, canteens etc) and ask them is age a factor before you spend a lot of money. (Cheffing is a physically arduous profession and you will be on your feet and working in cramped conditions and lifting heavy saucepans, so youth is an advantage.)
Always visit the school in advance of booking and check it out. Do you get all your ingredients included? Do they weigh them in advance for you and set them out or is it a bit of a scrum and whoever is last to the ingredients table has to make do? Do professional chefs with a good provenance teach part of the course? Is the course a mixture of people who have taken redundancy and are following their dream or is it populated with rich Americans or are your fellow students people who will end up as your chef colleagues in restaurants and help you to secure work? These are the practical suggestions worth following up.
PROXIMITY OF THE COOKING SCHOOL
Choose your Dublin cookery school based on how close it is to you as well as how apposite the courses are. Check the cookery school’s About us and Contact Us page to see if it is easy to reach depending on whether you are leaving work or home to attend a class. If you are doing a course for fun with a few friends, or organising a birthday party or hen night, you need to know that the taxi ride home won’t cost more than the cookery course itself! If you are going to have a glass of wine, make sure you arrange transport home or that you elect a non-drinking driver. If you are taking an 8-week course, how long will it take you in traffic to get there after work?
WILL YOU GET ANYTHING TO EAT?
Ask the cookery school what will you get to eat what you arrive at the course or if not, will nibbles be provided to keep hunger at bay while you cook – you don’t want to arrive from work for an evening class and find that you are starving and surrounded by food. A few small bruschetta won’t cut it if you haven’t eaten since lunchtime and will have to wait until the end of the course to eat something more substantial.
IS THE COOKING COURSE GOOD VALUE?
Price doesn’t always match content: the passion, talent and commitment of a good cooking teacher can outweigh a fancy set-up. Some of the technical schools around Dublin run evening courses where classes are more relaxed. There are some fine teachers there who see it as a vocation to send someone who has never cooked before, home and ready to make a good meal. If your life circumstances have changed and you find yourself cooking for one, this can be a good place to start and you can meet like-minds and perhaps make a few friends. They can be ideal for nervous cooks who may not feel as comfortable in a more formal cookery school set-up. You won’t get the bells and whistles of a professional cooking school that has shelled out for top-of-the-range equipment, a swish counter fit-out with plenty of space, a coherent team of teachers who complement each other and possibly a tailored demonstration kitchen so you can see everything being cooked.
Some of the Dublin Cooking Schools run voucher offers on the Irish Times or other coupon websites so always type in ‘cooking school voucher Ireland‘ or ‘cooking school voucher Dublin‘ into the Google search box to see who is running offers before you pay full price. There is nothing worse than sitting next to someone at a course who tells you they have paid less than you have for the same cookery course!
DO YOU WANT A DAY/WEEK COOKING COURSE OR OVER A FEW WEEKS?
Do you want to do a cookery course in a day, a full week or over a set number of evenings? If you are looking for a social outing to make new friends, a longer duration may work better for you and give you time to practice recipes in between classes. That way you can ask the instructor where you are going wrong or how to make something better. A class that crams a lot of learning into a week can give you a stronger skill set (chopping food for five days on the trot certainly helps your life-long knife skills!) but if you are not going to cook much during the following weeks you may forget everything.
WHAT TRAINING DO THE COOKERY INSTRUCTORS HAVE?
Make sure to ask about the training and skill-set of the cooking class instructor so you get the best value from your chosen course.
If you want to be a professional chef, you will need to take a specialist course. Chefs need to learn not just to cook, but to understand everything from food hygiene and safety systems to how to buy and use elaborate ingredients. Cookery schools who cater to this need bring in skilled restaurant chefs to support the teaching and they have access to ingredients companies who will demonstrate new equipment, fancy ingredients and modern techniques.
If you want to improve your cooking at home, cheffy techniques may be enthralling to watch at a course, but some chefs can’t teach home cooks. They use techniques that you can’t learn in a demonstration and ingredients you won’t ever find in the supermarket or deli. However, if it’s entertainment you are looking for and close access to a chef you admire to see if s/he is smaller than they are on the telly, you may LOVE a chef-run course, and won’t be terribly concerned about whether you will ever make a reduction in the comfort of your own kitchen!
If you are doing a dessert course check whether the chef is trained in patisserie. It’s not always the case but often chefs specialise in savoury or sweet. We have found that savoury chefs tend to ask their dessert chef for a few recipes when they have to make them at a course and they are not as committed to them as they would be for the savoury recipes they generate themselves.
A home economist cookery school teacher can be a good choice for beginners. They are often excellent at explaining the steps in a clear and easy way to reach a logical conclusion in a dish and that knowledge set, spelled out that way, can stay with you for life.
A teacher who is a caterer can help you to organise your cooking and prep in advance so that can be helpful if you need to fine-tune mid-week cooking or dinner parties where planning is key. Caterers are masterful at working skillfully without losing quality and will show you how to manage pressure in the kitchen and when to take a short cut or how to fix a disaster.
COOKERY SCHOOL GIFT VOUCHERS
It’s tempting to give a gift voucher to a friend or family member for a cooking course in the hope that they pick up a cooking skill, especially if you live with them and hope that they will become more proficient!
If you are going to give a gift voucher for a course, ask the person first would they really like it and will they use it – you are not just giving a gift, you are possibly asking them to leave work early every evening for weeks to make it to a cooking course they may not even want to go to (and it’s embarrassing to keep asking them have they used their voucher yet!). So make it easy on yourself: ask first, give them a leaflet or show them the cookery school website, ask them to choose their course and book and pay for it just before they are going to do it. (Did you know that gift voucher companies depend on a percentage of recipients not using their voucher to make a profit? Before you help to make that profit for them, make sure to check with the recipient that your money won’t be wasted.)
One note to keep in mind: gift vouchers often have a 12-month expiry date – ignore this, companies are required to allow you to use your gift voucher for up to 7 years! The best companies know they have taken your money in advance and will honour the voucher whenever you present it and there will be no issue. When you are paying money upfront for a cooking school voucher ask the question: when does my voucher expire? The response you get will be a good indicator as to the professionalism and quality of the cooking school.
DUBLIN COOKERY SCHOOLS LISTING
Robyn’s Nest Cookery School,
Town Centre Mall, Swords, Co. Dublin
Telephone: 087 2556309
Lady Eve Cookery School
086 227 0125
Howth Castle Cookery School
Telephone: 01: 839 6182
Baking Academy of Ireland
Old Lucan Road,
Telephone: (01) 845 1214
Saba Cookery Classes
26/28 Clarendon Street,
Telephone: +353 1 679 2000
DIT School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology
Dublin Institute of Technology,
Cathal Brugha Street,
Telephone: (01) 402 4344
Alix Gardner’s Cookery School Dublin
71 Waterloo Rd, Dublin
Telephone: (01) 668 1553
Cooks Academy Cookery School,
19 South William St,
Telephone: (01) 611 1667
Dublin Cookery School,
2 Brookfield Terrace,
Telephone: (01) 210 0555
Donnybrook Fair Cookery School
89 Morehampton Road, (1st floor)
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ARE YOU A COOKERY SCHOOL BASED IN DUBLIN?
If you are a Dublin Cookery School in Dublin, we are happy to list your basic details free of charge above. We operate the website with a small team so we cannot respond to emails or add sales pitches to each entry. If we haven’t included you or if you need your address or telephone number updated, get in touch and we will correct them as soon as we can. If you would like to advertise, please fill in our form here.