I was recently invited to join a very special party on the Cambridgeshire/Essex border to celebrate the launch of some very exciting happenings within a homely and vibrant cookery school that not even my food-loving self had heard of previously. You know me by now, I’m never one to turn down some feasting and a good old nosey around a fantastic venue.
Just Cook is a purpose built cookery school nestled within the historic station-side buildings of the Maltings next to Newport mainline station in Essex, just a hop from Saffron Walden. It all stemmed from an idea by Tim Ryan, a passionate man who wanted to inspire people through his fun outlook on food and soon the idea of a well-equipped cookery school grew.
Tim joined forces with his resident chef, Maxine Quinn who shares his passion for cooking and she now manages the Just Cook Cookery School too – you simply have to engage in just a short conversation to become addicted to her enthusiasm for a community-minded space that will offer a place to learn, relax and have fun at the same time.
As soon as I walked through the doors I felt right at home, the soft colours and low-level lampshades make this venue feel like a loft apartment, it really did feel as though I had just walked into their home kitchen… and it made me want to roll up my sleeves and help, I think that’s just the natural hostess in me, but it didn’t feel as sterile as I had expected it to.
There are 6 individual cooking stations all built around the central dining area, which is made of a large communal table and chairs for an intimate dining experience after a lesson, it’s such a great idea and makes use of every inch of the room within this first floor studio space. Everything is provided for all cookery lessons, you are even given some recipes to take home with you afterwards, so this makes it a perfect venue for an intimate celebration or a great excuse to join a pre-arranged class or two.
The overhead lights house built in extractor fans, which is just such a clever design in itself, I couldn’t help but geek out about this little touch, I loved it. At first I thought it had a speaker or sound system within it, until someone mentioned that this was a clever way of hiding the extractor fans, very clever!
Cookery classes are run by their regular chefs, as well as guest chefs from local food businesses, there are some exciting names in the pipeline. We were treated to Indian inspired treats on the night cooked freshly by Priyanka Bamford of Pri’s Kitchen and the floral displays were created by Claire Ashman Smith of Waterbaby Flowers, who is also teaching floristry workshops within the school. It’s a varied class list and it will grow even more as they grow, I may even fancy helping to offer my own skills in the future, so watch this space..
You will be able to book Just Cook for private supper clubs, learning to cook the food that you plan to eat should you so desire, allowing up to 14 guests at one time, as well as classes on offer for children & teenagers to help their kitchen confidence. Private catering is also on offer and by the taste of their homemade macarons on offer on the evening alone, I’d say this could be food worth looking into for a memorable event.
Rachel Hewlett of The Biscuit Jar was also present and had organised some beautifully handmade biscuits with the Just Cook logo on the them for everybody to take home as a party favour – needless to say, this didn’t make it home in one piece, it would have been too rude not to give it a go for pudding!
This is somewhere well worth keeping an eye on, it’s not too far from Cambridge and is in the perfect location from a hop up from London too, no excuses. With courses ranging from Italian through to fish classes, flower arranging, Indian, Moroccan, Thai and even Spanish, there’s going to be something for every taste, making it a great gift option for a food-loving friend perhaps.
This was just a sneaky peek behind the scenes, so I cannot wait to see what they can do when it comes to the classes. The food and drink on the night was delicious, the kitchen was smelling gorgeous and the buzz was electric, everybody was enjoying themselves and this is what I’m looking forward to seeing at future events within this new cookery school.
The Just Cook team are also planning to create vintage tea parties for private hire and will potentially be running baking classes too, so this is very exciting and something I can’t wait to get involved with as a guest… I can just imagine enjoying an afternoon tea in their beautiful kitchen after helping to prepare some of the elements, it would make for a memorable afternoon or celebration if you fancied trying somewhere a little more unusual.