One thing I have come to value in my adventures with food is the technical skills chefs must possess. They are naturally driven hard workers, creative and innovative, passionate about ingredients and provenance, and nearly all of them can do things with food that I could only dream of.
But you have to start somewhere. For many chefs, they attend college or do apprenticeships or work on the job (like the great Marco Pierre White). For others, they attend places like Ashburton Chefs Academy and hone their art under the guidance of expert tutors like Chef Darrin Hosegrove.
One of the culminations of their time at Ashburton is the Charity Dining Club which happens at points throughout the year, in the final term of the Diploma of Culinary Arts course. Each cohort gets a chance to do different roles throughout the evenings and gain experience of creating food with actual paying humans at the end of the process.
All of the proceeds goes to support a local charity which changes regularly whilst also providing a dining experience of excellent value and quality. On this occasion, money was going towards helping the Dartmoor Community Hub
Ashburton Cookery School was founded in 1992 and has grown in popularity and prestige over the years. Darrin Hosegrove was appointed in 2004 and is responsible for course teaching and development; in 2012 the Chefs Academy was founded and has been producing chefs who have gone off to do many great and wonderful things – read their graduates page for more about their successful alumni
So I was very excited when we got an invitation to pop along to see for ourselves what one of these evenings were like.
Canapés and drinks were served as we mingled and met some of the waiting staff that would be joining us that evening. Their current building is purpose built for the school and was opened in 2009 with world-class facilities on Old Exeter Road in Ashburton. Sitting right near the A38, it is easy to get to even though I did my classic thing and missed the very obvious turning.
Our menu tonight looked like this:
Maple glazed Pork Belly with Apple Puree and Sage
Ginger Beignets with Pink Grapefrut & Dill Mayonnaise
Goats Cheese Cured Courgettes
Pine Nut Cannelloni
Sundried Tomato and Olive Bread
Sour Dough Leaves
Fig, Rosemary and Walnut Bread
Pickled Baby Carrots, Sweet & Sour Celeriac and Citrus Gel
Pressed Ham Hock
Scotch Quails Egg, Piccaalilli, Smoked Egg, Yolk Puree
with Cauliflower Puree, Coconut Foam and Lime Emulsion
Truffled Free-Range Chicken & Ballotine of Leg
with Celeriac, Asparagus, Fondant Potato, Onion Soubise,
Summer Cabbage and a Chicken Jus
Daily Dessert from the Pastry Kitchen
Coffee & Petit Fours from the Pastry Kitchen
The fact that these evenings raise money for charity is one thing, but the value that diners get is incredible. The standard, is incredibly high and the staff clearly pass their passion and love of hospitality and cooking, on to their students.
I love what Ashburton Cookery School do and the welcoming environment makes these events a perfect experience gift for a foodie, or an opportunity to show someone you love how awesome food can really be.
We were impressed with the quality and the flow of the evening, and couldn’t fault any of it. If you live in Exeter, it’s worth a trip down to Ashburton to really experience an excellent event.
Ashburton Cookery School & Chef’s Academy
Old Exeter Road,