Just before Christmas, Dean Close held the official opening of the new Cookery School alongside a Leiths Christmas Canape Party. Guest of honour was Viv Burroughs, a former teacher, who first introduced the Leiths Basic Certificate in Food and Wine to the School.

Around 60 guests arrived to a festively decorated BonBernard Gallery for drinks before going into the new facility for speeches. After a warm introduction from the Headmaster, Viv gave an amusing and emotional talk about her time at the School, recounting some funny memories such as a student who used a blender without a lid and another who threw spaghetti at the wall to check it was cooked! Viv said how incredibly impressed she was with the new facility and how thrilled she was to see cookery taking such a central role in the School. New Head of Cookery, Maria Taylor, then stepped up to give a heartfelt talk about her love of cookery and how it can bring friends and family together, as well as make a difference to the quality of life. She really showed her passion for cooking and talked about her pride in seeing her students take photos of their food to send home.

After speeches, guests returned to the BonBernard where they were served a delicious range of canapes that had been prepared by Leiths students during the day. The menu was:

  • Yorkshires with caramelised onion, fillet beef and horseradish cream
  • Endive with fennel, smoked mackerel and orange
  • Stilton, celery and apple chutney filo cups
  • Pulled pork bruschetta with smoked tomato ketchup and peppers
  • Miso roasted aubergine with cucumber and mint
  • Thai chicken with coriander and sweet chilli
  • Meringues with rose cream, pomegranate and pistachio
  • Mince pies with orange Grand Marnier mascarpone

The event generated lots of positive feedback and praise for the fabulous food and talented cooks. Maria Taylor commented: “It was the perfect event to officially open the new Dean Close Cookery School. Our Upper Sixth students worked so hard all day to make it a really special evening filled with good food and an overwhelming feeling of support for our new department. Their array of stunning canapes stole the show and guests were enthralled with the myriad of tastes and textures in each dainty mouthful. I am bursting with pride this morning and feel so lucky to have the opportunity to teach such inspirational young people.”

The new cookery school combines a commercial catering facility with a sleek modern demonstration kitchen. There are nine individual, stainless steel kitchen areas each with their own full set of kitchen equipment, oven and hob and double sink. The sleek marble topped demonstration area can seat up to 16 students and is designed and equipped to allow two chefs to work side by side to create a range of delicious dishes in front of students, combined with an audio visual system to enhance teaching and learning. Entrance hall, changing rooms, prep and storage areas complete this state of the art multi-functional facility.