"Having turned up with my only claim to cooking being beans on toast, I can now prepare and cook a fabulous meal!"

Harvey Lawless

Claire Barham

Meet our founder Claire Barham

Founder Claire Barham

After completing Leiths International Diploma in Food and Wine, Claire realised her dream of using her qualification to create her own cookery school in 2016. For her, it’s the perfect way to pass on her knowledge and help people who are either new or nervous about cooking or who want to improve their skills or learn about a new cuisine.

Where does your love of cooking come from?

Claire says: “My nan was a fantastic pastry cook and I often cooked with her. I’ve inherited her skills with pastry – we both have very cold hands (and warm hearts). From quite a young age I remember loving making jam tarts with her or my mum, using the leftovers from the apple pie they were preparing for Sunday lunch.

“I also love the theory and science of cooking and I read a lot to learn new techniques and tips. I love experimenting to discover new ways of doing things.”

Have you always been a cook? How many years have you been cooking professionally?

“I qualified 15 years ago. I’ve always kept my hand in doing small catering events but only started up the school four years ago. I have been professionally trained in classic French cooking, so have lots of techniques and tips even experienced home cooks will find really valuable.”

What are your specialties/favourite dishes to cook?

“I love making cakes and desserts. Although it’s not so good on the waistline! One of the advantages of running the cookery school is that I get to make cakes and desserts for all our participants, and I can allow myself a thin sliver.”

What are your top tips for budding cooks?

“Cook what you love to eat and don’t be afraid of making mistakes – it’s often the best way to learn.”

What can people expect from your classes?

“I really want our class participants to learn new skills and feel inspired to get in the kitchen and try out what they have learned. It’s also really important that people have fun and enjoy the day. I work hard to make sure the environment is relaxed and welcoming as meeting potentially nine strangers at 10am in the morning can be a little intimidating for some people. I hope everyone really enjoys the food – both the cooking and the eating.”

What’s your favourite cuisine?

“I’ve always loved Italian – it’s pure comfort food. I am also a massive fan of Japanese food as well – it seems so fresh and healthy. I’ve also recently returned from China and loved the food, so I’d love to create a course focused on that.”

If you could eat only one dish, what would it be?

“Aubergine parmigiana.”