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Yvette Farrell on a mission to get more people in the kitchen

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Author: Patrick Baines, Posted: Monday, 30th April 2018, 10:10

If you’re looking to improve your culinary skills, or want to try a new style of cooking, Harts Barn Cookery School is the place to visit. Since opening in 2011 the school has earned a great reputation for improving the cooking skills of everyone who passes through the doors of the stunning wooden barn that overlooks the Gloucestershire countryside.

Located in the Forest of Dean, equidistant between Longhope and Mitcheldean, the school is owned by Yvette Farrell, a passionate advocate for home cooking. “I’ve had a love of cooking since early childhood, I love teaching people new skills in the kitchen,” said Yvette. “I’m a big believer in being inspired by your surroundings, it’s great to be able to cook in such an historic building that overlooks the countryside here in the Forest of Dean,” she added.

The cookery school runs a wide variety of classes, ranging from simple bread making to technical classes for people who feel more at home in the kitchen. Continued Yvette: “Some people come with worried looks on their faces, saying they don’t know how to cook. Cooking, like most things, revolves around confidence. Our job is to create a relaxed atmosphere, somewhere where people can have fun while they learn new skills. We run classes and events for local schools and cooking experiences for everyone from the Brownies through to the WI and blue-chip organisations. Our ‘Men in the Kitchen’ class is one of my favourite to teach. A lot of the men – who have been booked lessons by their partners – arrive with frightened looks on their faces, saying they can’t cook. After an hour or so in the kitchen they’re a lot more relaxed and producing quality plates of food. Television programmes often give the impression that cooking is complex and requires years of practice, it’s simply not true. Anyone can cook, it’s all about mastering the basics and learning new skills.”

Yvette is a fervent supporter of local producers, and as a trained horticulturist she believes in making the most of edible plants both garden grown and naturally foraged. “There’s nothing better than cooking with fresh produce from the Forest of Dean. I’m often asked what my favourite meal to cook is, the answer is anything that contains fresh ingredients, ideally from the local area. We’ve so many local businesses that provide us with such fantastic ingredients, it’s great being able to support them. I have a garden at home where I grow my own leeks, runner beans and other vegetables, there’s nothing like cooking with ingredients fresh out of the garden.”

There’s a team of experienced chefs that work at the cookery school, each one an expert in their chosen field. Said Yvette: “I’m in charge of running all the hen parties, corporate events and children’s classes, which are always a lot of fun. Our bread making course is always popular, as are our world cuisine courses that showcase food from all over the globe. The team of cooking tutors here all specialise in certain areas, from bread making to Asian street food, Italian cuisine, gluten free cooking and many more specialist areas such as vegetarian and vegan cooking. It’s important that people are eating, tasting and enjoying each other’s company. Cooking is such a crucial life skill that everybody should possess and it should be encouraged.”

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