Learn to cook better

Diane and Robbie Perry

Diane and Robbie Perry - Credit: Archant

Stuck for the perfect Christmas gift on need inspiration in the kitchen? Then check out Diane Perry’s fabulous Cookery Studio near Faversham

Enjoying a delightfully rural location yet very well connected (Faversham 10 minutes away, motorway ditto, Canterbury just a bit further), the new Cookery Studio in Badlesmere is well worth seeking out.

I had the pleasure of spending a morning with Diane Perry and her husband Robbie in the converted barn where they have created a stunning, spacious ground floor with space for a giant dining table, snuggly sofas and chairs – and a purpose-designed, fully equipped kitchen at its heart.

Attractive accommodation up on the mezzanine level is indication of the future direction they want to take the studio in, hosting families and groups for a weekend of cooking and exploring the region.

Sadly I just had time for a morning’s tuition, but that was enough to get me well and truly hooked and eager to return.

But first there’s time for a coffee at that welcoming table and to learn a bit more about Diane Perry’s journey to the Cookery Studio, which launched this September.

“My grandparents had bakeries in the north of England so I think I have this inbred baking gene,” she laughs. “I was always into food from being a youngster.”

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Indeed, Diane studied food and nutrition at Bath University and taught for a couple of years in the West Country before pursuing a commission in the airforce, where she entered the catering branch.

Four and a half years later, having learnt from an excellent sergeant-chef, achieved her dream of flying and travelling – and also having met and married Robbie – she left to raise a family (their son now has his own boutique catering company).

Robbie’s job in logistics with the airforce meant that they moved often, and time in Holland and Yorkshire was followed by a move to Brussels when Robbie joined NATO. Deciding she’d get a teaching job, Diane was instead asked to open a school in Belgium and made such a success of being a headteacher that she transferred to another school in Brussels for 13 years, gaining an MBE for her work in the process.

Fifteen years ago, with the children at Kings Canterbury, the couple decided they needed a base in the UK. “We ended up just very casually being here in Kent – which I am delighted about, I love the county.

“We had an apartment in Brussels and commuted at weekends. I’d just given up the first headship so came here for 18 months to project manage the restoration of the oast, our new home,” Diane adds.

“But just as I’d finished I got a phone call for an interview in Brussels and got the second headship. We’d come back every fortnight by the Shuttle. We pretty much gutted the place, it was very outdated.”

That exhausting lifestyle has finally ended and the Perrys are throwing themselves into their new Cookery Studio.

“The foodie side of me was definitely calling, so this is perfect, as I love teaching, cooking and people,” says Diane.

Those skills and her background are evident in Diane’s teaching – warm, hands on, encouraging and practical. Under her expert guidance I swiftly turn out quite credible biscotti, chocolate mendiants (a traditional French confection consisting of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits) and some dead easy mulling syrup, which we later apply to a handy bottle of red to toast our morning’s efforts.

I just had a couple of hours with Diane, but a proper course would take much longer and she prefers a group of up to eight.

With everything from bread making to ‘essential Italian’ and Vietnamese cuisine to choose from, there is a course for all levels, from the beginner to the expert home cook seeking fresh inspiration.

And for that person in your life who is impossible to buy for at Christmas, the gift of a course at the Cookery Studio could prove a life saver. Or just treat yourself. n

Get in touch

The Cookery Studio

Fisher Street Oast, Badlesmere,

Faversham ME13 0LB

01227 730528,

enquiries@cookerystudiokent.co.uk

www.cookerystudiokent.co.ukw