Ad - this cooking class was gifted to me by Leeds Cookery School in return for a blog post, but all views are my own.
I’d wanted to take a cooking class with Leeds Cookery School for a long time, ever since I found out about them, but hadn’t quite gotten around to it. So when I was offered the chance to take part in their Pizza and Prosecco Cocktails class in return for a blog post I was ridiculously excited! Not only was the class amazing, but they play a key role in the local community and I’m all for that. So let me tell you a little about Leeds Cookery School, their location and the Pizza and Prosecco Cocktails class that I took part in.
What is Leeds Cookery School?
Leeds Cookery School does what it says on the tin: teaches you to cook! They offer around 30 different Chef-led cookery classes, courses and demonstrations for beginners right through to kitchen pros. Across the different classes, trained chefs promote the use of local and seasonal ingredients and the importance of eating ethically and sustainable. If you’ve read some of my blog posts before, particularly my 5 Reasons to Love Leeds Kirkgate Market one, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of this!
Not only does Leeds Cookery School source ingredients from Yorkshire wherever possible, order small quantities to minimise wastage, highlight the producers they work with AND work with Fairshare Yorkshire to use food that would otherwise go to waste, they also actively give back to the community. 100% of profits are donated to Zest, a local charity supporting people living in disadvantaged areas of Leeds. They also run several affordable cooking classes with the aim of providing basic cooking skills to low income families and vulnerable people.
Sold yet? Let me tell you about the location next.
Leeds Cookery School classes are held in a light, spacious and modern training kitchen at The Old Fire Station, just off the A64 York Road in East Leeds. The kitchen is set in a former fire engine bay, and you can admire the original floor markings whilst you cook. Loads of the original features are in place, including pumps and a fireman’s pole which you have to pass to reach the toilet facilities.
Not only is the building beautiful, but it’s also got a lovely story behind it. When the West Yorkshire Fire Service commissioned a new fire station in 2014, after 77 years located here, two locally-based community organisations set their sights on repurposing it to serve the local community. They approached the Leeds Community Foundation, who managed a large sum set up by a late local businessman, Jimi Heselden, who had been passionate about supporting his local community, and got a grant to purchase and renovate the fire station.
Since its completion in 2017, The Old Fire Station has been bringing together local people, community groups and charities with the aim of providing a thriving hub where people can “learn, develop and engage in positive activities” and have the opportunity “maximise their potential, improve their well being and quality of life” (quotes taken from the Old Fire Station Gipton website).
Pizza and Prosecco Cocktails Class
Having just come back from Venice a couple of days before, this was EXACTLY what I needed, and it succeeded in taking me back there. We were welcomed to the class with a delicious Mulled Wine Bellini and all of a sudden not only was my mind in Italy, but it was in Italy at Christmas time! We enjoyed our cocktails whilst learning a bit about Leeds Cookery School, what we’d be making in the class and having the all-important health and safety briefing, before being shown how to make the cocktails ourselves.
Then it was on to the pizza making. Despite the ingredients for the dough already having been measured out and put in little containers within the mixing bowl, I still managed to make a mess. I am not a tidy cook! We learnt which order to add the ingredients in, how best to mix them and then how to knead the dough… which was quite the workout!
Whilst the dough was proofing, we learnt how to make the perfect tomato sauce for our pizzas. This involved learning how to safely cut up an onion (I didn’t injure myself but I did have a very chunky sauce thanks to my lack of onion chopping skills), how to season the sauce, why to avoid constantly stirring and just let it do its thing, and the difference a tiny bit of sugar makes to a tomato sauce!
Next, rolling the dough into a pizza base. Once again I messed this up and got more of a heart shape than a circle, but I don’t think anyone noticed as someone else had to redo theirs completely, and once I’d topped it with my freshly made tomato sauce it was hardly noticeable anyway.
And then we topped the pizzas. The best bit. I was truly in my happy place here! Soft and creamy mozzarella, delicate Prosciutto, salty anchovies, sweet roasted peppers, meaty chorizo and a kick of chilli made the perfect pizza for me. Other members of the group added mushrooms and pickled chillies too, and most omitted the anchovies.
Waiting for the pizzas to cook could have been a torturous experience, but luckily Leeds Cookery School had it covered with more cocktails. We learnt how to make a Ginger & Lime Spritz, a Pomegranate & Rosemary Sparkler and an Aperol Spritz (my absolute favourite drink). And even better, we also got to drink all of these over the course of the evening!
It didn’t take long for our pizzas to be ready, and one by one we (carefully) removed them from the oven, transferred them onto nice wooden boards, and topped them with fresh rocket and a drizzle of truffle oil. We sat around a gorgeous table enjoying our pizzas as new friends (in some cases old, we bumped into a couple that we already knew). They were huge pizzas so I took my last couple of slices home to enjoy the next morning for breakfast, and we were also given some pizza dough and tomato sauce to put in the freezer for a Friday night treat in the future.
Will I Be Returning to Leeds Cookery School?
Uh yuh!! I had a fantastic time, learnt new skills, made new friends and came away with a full belly. What more could I possibly ask for? The chefs taking the class, Scott Masey and Simon Chappelow, were passionate teachers who clearly love their jobs and they were a pleasure to learn from and spend time with.
There are some fantastic looking classes that I’m desperate to try in the future, in particular Steph Moon’s Autumnal Masterclass and Freda Shafi’s Supper Club Secrets. Scott also mentioned that he would be teaching an offal cooking class in the future which I will definitely be signing up to, as it’s the perfect way to learn how to cook meat that costs less and reduces waste!
If you have any questions about my experience at Leeds Cookery School please feel free to get in touch in the comments or on social media and I’d love to help. Will you be booking a class with Leeds Cookery School?