This week sees the opening of a new cookery school with a difference in Leeds. Catherine Scott meets the woman behind Get Cooking.
There is a delicious Mediterranean cooking smell wafting over a business park in Farsley, Leeds.
The aromas are emanating from Get Cooking, a new cookery school which opens its doors to the public on Thursday.
It is the brainchild of former social worker Emily Carey.
Emily grew up in a really foodie family.
“My mum was always cooking really delicious food, and good food was really important to us as a family,” explains Emily from Pudsey.
But Emily, who was born partially deaf, decided to embark on a career as a social worker.
But it wasn’t long before her passion for food started to shine through.
“I started running some courses at Leeds East Academy for people with additional needs,” explains the mum of one.
“I just wanted to passion my love of food. Some people struggle to even cook the basics and the courses went down really well.”
But Emily’s dream was to open her own cookery school for the people in and around Leeds.
“We couldn’t do what we wanted to do at Leeds East Academy and so I started to look for premises where I could open a cookery school, which was accessible to people, so that they could come to courses after work and at weekend.”
At first she looked at Headingley, but in the end found a unit she likes on the Springifield Business Centre in Farsley.
“There is a lot happening in Farsley, it almost has a village feel to it and is really up and coming with a lot of creative things happening,” says Emily. “This unit used to be a dance studio,”
With the help of Lottery funding and other grants, Emily set about transforming the former dance studio into a state of the art cookery school.
“I really enjoyed that bit of the process,” she says. “I knew exactly what I wanted to create. I knew that I wanted bespoke wooden work stations but when I went to joiners they wanted thousands for each work station.”
In the end they were made by a joiner friend of her dad’s and the result is very impressive. The wood brings a warmth to the shiny work surfaces and pans.
What sets Get Cooking apart from other cookery schools is that Emily wants to create a new kind of food and drink hub.
“I have created a relaxing area where people can come and look through cookery books. One of the work stations has been especially designed so that I can be lowered to turn into a big table so that when people finish a course they can sit together ad eat it here if they wish.
“I want it to more of a lifestyle centre where people get to meet other people,” says Emily who has a 13-year-old daughter Mabel.
“Get Cooking’s ethos is one that embraces a real love of cooking and a lifestyle that connects people more to the food they produce.
Get Cooking is an evolving Community Interest Company, building on the success of its programme of supported courses with accessibility at its core.
Emily plans to work closely with local suppliers and also other experts including a forager and a brewer.
“I will be taking the majority of the courses,” says the self taught chef.
“But we will also have some guests coming in to take more specialists courses.”
Emily’s passion is Mediterranean food, although she is also adept at Asian cuisine.
“I’ve always been very excited about Mediterranean food. I just love cooking and want to pass on what I know to other people. Food is about bringing people together and that’s what I want to do here.
“I know so many people who struggle with cooking. I just felt there was a need for some where ilke this in Leeds. I did some research to see what was on offer and there just seemed to be a gap in the market for something like this; somewhere people can go on their way home from work, park easily, sook a delicious meal which they can eat here or take home.
“We have all lost touch a bit with where our food comes from as we are so busy and convenience food is easy, but I want to show people that good, locally produced and bought food doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Making your own chapatis for example is probably quicker than getting in the car and driving to the shops - and much more satisfying.
“I don’t want to make it too ‘chefy’, it can be intimidating for some people. It is about great ingredients and how to cook them well for yourself and your family and friends.”
Courses, which started from the end of the month, include Mediterranean Cooking, Spanish Cooking and Summer Vegetarian Cooking which are eith six or eight week courses runing between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.
There are also day schools in Bread Making, Nutritional & Healthy Eating, Foraging and Wild Food Cooking as well as holiday courses for 8-18 year olds.
In addition they are running a new special course Cooking for Babies, expected to be popular with new parents and a Learn to Brew Craft Ale course is hoped to start in the spring-summer.
“We want there to be something for everyone,” said Emily, who is also hoping to develop corporate events for businesses.
Emily and Get Cooking will be at the Leeds Indy Food Festival from May 12 to 30.