This year, I’m going to Leith’s School of Food and Wine.
That’s right. I’ll be studying the Diploma course at Britain’s premier culinary school, founded by food icon Prue Leith in 1975.
Well. Almost. I’ll be taking an informal distance-education approach. Okay, I’ll be cooking through Leith’s Technique Bible in my home kitchen. But in terms of culinary school, I think it’s the best attendance option for me. The Technique Bible is billed as containing all the course material from the Diploma, but it retails for £36 rather than £21905 (the cost of the diploma). It can also be accessed in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, 16,893 kilometres from London. The study hours are also more family-friendly, which I’m sure will be appreciated by my toddler Zool and wife MJ.
In short, I am a broke Australian mum living in a culinary wasteland a literal world away from Leith’s. But this year, I’m going to see just what culinary excellence I (and, potentially you) can achieve in a suburban kitchen.
Here are the rules for my challenge:
1. To ‘graduate’ I must be able to competently and consistently execute every technique in Leith’s Techniques Bible.
2. I will, as much as I can in my little suburban outpost, try to live the life of a culinary student. This involves practicing techniques and dishes while feeding myself outside of ‘school’ time; and actively seeking opportunities to learn techniques, dishes and foodways from other people. I will eat new dishes at restaurants (rather than my perennial favourite of fish and chips). I will try new ingredients while learning about them from sellers and producers. I will also try to learn with and from my fellow students (that’s you, kind reader).
3. As much as possible, bearing in mind that I’m planning the curriculum and receiving it, I won’t read ahead. (I’m tempted to Hermione Granger it, but thinking back to how I worked when I was studying at school and university I would poke around in my textbooks before the term started, but I never read them cover to cover. Sorry, Hermione).
What do I hope to achieve? Something transformational.