(Nicola’s Story) A Student’s First Impression of Cookery School

Step into Nicola’s shoes for Week One at Cooks Academy.

“Mise En Place….Cartouche….A la minute….”


No, you have not unintentionally walked into a French classroom – rather Week 1 of the Cooks Academy Certificate in Practical Cookery!

We are delighted to introduce Nicola, one of our students – who happens to be a Paleo Food Blogger.  She has given us a round up of her Week One experience of the 4 Week Certificate Course – see what she and the other students got up to below:


Nicola says:

It has been a whirl wind of a week! I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by and how much I have learned in just 5 days! We were told on Day One that it would be action packed and that promise was surely delivered!

First thing on Monday morning was a bit of a blur, before I knew it I was straight into knife skills – slice, dice, julienne, baton – you name it we did it! All of which made their way into carrot soup for lunch alongside homemade soda bread.


Although I would consider myself to be a somewhat accomplished cook all of this was new to me – instantly knew I was in the right place.

As soon as we had each finished preparing our dishes we brought them up to be marked – the idea of using sugar, lemon and salt as seasonings was a totally new concept to me but none the less lunch was served and it was delicious! We sat together as a group and had a chance to chat and get to know one another before jumping straight into choux pastry.

Being a Paleo Food Blogger – yet again I found myself in unknown territory!

“So that’s how they make éclairs!!”

day 1

An unknown incident occurred and I found myself still stirring a milky looking mixture while everyone else’s looked completely different, this brought on a dose of the colly wobbles and I started to question if this really was the right course for me.

A trip down the drain for my first attempt, a fresh pot and a clear head was all that was needed to produce what turned out to be some pretty good éclairs!!

A thorough clean down of the kitchen and then home laden with the fruits of my labour. All in all a very successful first day – what had I been worried about?!

My first day was a great eye opener – everyone on the course is starting from different points on their culinary journeys but one thing is certain – by the end we will all be accomplished in our own rights.

Day Two saw the introduction of our boning knife and was most certainly the highlight of my week! Sea bass with Spinach and Lemon Beurre Blanc – To die for! Made even better by the incredible sticky toffee pudding that followed – which was gobbled up by everyone at home!!


I adore fish but have always been weary of buying one whole and boning it myself – never again!! I enjoyed it so much that I recreated it at home for my dinner!


Wednesday was all about Bread and Buns.

bread day (1)

I’ll be completely honest and confess that as someone who doesn’t eat bread or buns I was not exactly looking forward to it. Never the less I went in with an open mind eager to add to my skill set and what a day!!!

First up was a plaited bread, followed by pizza, hot cross buns, Chelsea buns and my favourite – banana bread!

After seeing how simple and satisfying making your own homemade bread is – I can’t get my head around why more people don’t make their own. If you take one thing from this post it would be to trust me and give it a try!

Our pizza lunch brought out everyone’s creative flare from stuffed crusts to 3 way combinations – you name it we made it!


The afternoon saw the introduction of sweet dough with hot cross and Chelsea buns. Followed by Banana bread.

banana bread

I was delighted to get a chance to use my new skills to put together my own Gluten Free, Dairy Free & Paleo Banana Bread with Walnuts and Raisins while the rest of the group prepared the Cooks Academy Version. The way that the course is structured really gives you the freedom to put your own spin on things while still learning the key techniques. Check out the recipe here!

Flushed with my success, I couldn’t wait to jump straight back into the kitchen on Day 4! We sailed through Chicken Chasseur and sat down to a fantastic lunch.


lemon pie

After which it was time to tackle the Lemon Meringue  Pie. Everything was going perfectly to plan and for the first time all week I found myself ahead of everyone else, until I left my meringue mix sitting around for too long before putting it in a piping bag – Disaster! What was once beautiful glossy mountain peaks had turned to a runny white soup!! It was like I had been slapped in the face with Tuesday’s wet sea bass we were tight on time so there was nothing I could do except pack up my pastry and lemon curd (thankfully I hadn’t added it to the pie yet!) and watch as everyone else finished up and took snaps of their delicious looking pies.

I left feeling deflated, thank god for dark sunglasses because I sobbed the whole way home on the Luas!!

On Friday morning I arrived 30 minutes early with fighting spirit to re-do my meringue – and boy was it worth the wait! Yet another scrumptious success! Taking a step back and accepting defeat was the best thing I could have done. All it needed was 4 fresh egg whites and some sugar!


Following our food safety talk Vanessa Greenwood, the founder of Cooks Academy took over to take us through a series of buffet recipes perfect for entertaining! Baked Baby Potatoes, Tarragon Chicken, Grilled Vegetables, Roast Tomatoes.. you name it! And the pièce de résistance – Strawberry Roulade!

There has definitely been highs and lows throughout the first week, no truer words have been said then that of Henry Ford, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

I am ready to hit the ground running with Week 2 and can’t wait to tell you all about it!

For more information on the above course call: +35316111667 or visit http://www.cooksacademy.com

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