Just as The Pudding Club in last week’s post was established to save the great British pud, The School of Artisan Food shares a similar ideology.
n 2006, two of the School of Artisan Food’s directors decided to open an artisan bakery in the premises of the old fire station on the beautiful Welbeck Estate in the middle of Sherwood Forest. Having designed two large wood-fired ovens, it seemed a perfect location to teach aspiring artisan bakers – it had been difficult to find bakers with the requisite skills. Other artisan producers on the estate became interested in the fine courtyard buildings, and the idea of creating a centre of excellence for learning all aspects of artisan food production was born. The School began with a focus on artisan baking, but has since expanded to include courses in brewing, butchery, cheese and dairy, pickling, and chocolate.
Not your everyday bakery!
A not-for-profit company was set up, headed by a board of people who are passionate about artisan food and who work both locally and nationally. The East Midlands Development Agency kindly funded the first stage of capital works and the complete refurbishment of two thirds of the building started in February 2009 and was finished in September of that year.
The School’s home on the beautiful Welbeck Estate. (Image courtesy of fabulousplaces.co.uk)
The School sees the term “artisan” as describing food produced by non-industrialised methods, often handed down through generations but now in danger of being lost. Tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production:
‘There is no single definition of artisan food. Artisan producers should understand and respect the raw materials with which they work, they should know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them. They should have mastered the craft of their particular production and have a historical, experiential, intuitive and scientific understanding of what makes the process that they are engaged in successful. They should know what tastes good and be sensitive to the impact of their production on people and the environment.’
The School offers Advanced Diploma as well as shorter courses for the beginner and seasoned chef alike, taught by some of the most skilled and experienced artisan producers and practitioners in the UK, Europe and beyond.
The School specialises in an ‘artisan’ education…
The School of Artisan Food will feature regularly across the weekend at the Stratford Food Festival, demonstrating in the Cookery Theatre and the Talk & Taste Theatre, hosting two Interactive Workshops, and exhibiting in one of our indoor tented spaces. David Carter, one of the School’s expert tutors will be giving sourdough centre stage, talking festivalgoers through the science behind this magical breadmaking process, offering samples and – for those on an interactive workshop – helping you to create your own wild yeast starter. David completed a full-time Diploma in Artisan Production, specialising in baking, and graduated with Distinction in 2011. He is now the School’s full time Bakery Coordinator.
David Carter: knows a thing or two about dough
Cookery Theatre: Saturday at 4pm
Talk & Taste Theatre: Sunday at 2pm
Interactive Workshops: Saturday and Sunday at 12pm (tickets £5, please book in advance).
For more info on the School of Artisan Food, click here.