The Edinburgh School of Food and Wine reaches a quarter of a century this year. Edinburgh Foody caught up with owner Ian Pirrie to find out more.
What inspired the creation of the Edinburgh School of Food and Wine?
I actually bought the School in 2008. However I know it was originally set up to bridge the gap in skills no longer passed down. People used to learn cooking skills and recipes from their mums’ or Grannies but this tradition was becoming more and more rare. Another reason was to compliment the Home Economics curriculum which at that time was being vastly reduced in schools.
Tell me more about the school
The way we like to describe the school is culinary educational excellence. We take a much more hands-on approach than many other culinary courses at colleges and 90% of the work is practical so you come away not only with knowledge but with a brand new skill set. The school is a mix of educational and leisure classes and there really is something for everyone no matter what level you are at from our 6 month diploma to food and wine evenings.
My mum was a fantastic cook and I learned a lot from her, however I also did the diploma at the ESFW which ultimately led to me buying it after leaving a career in banking.
What has changed over the years?
Something I’ve noticed returning from years back is that people are more open to using cheaper or unusual cuts of meat, it was appropriate then and is becoming more prevalent now.
While pigs cheek might not be my first choice people are open to using the whole carcass!
What courses would you suggest for a visitor to Scotland or someone living locally?
The visitor to Scotland and the local would be best placed on one of the one or two day master classes; these are more what we term leisure classes and are suitable for all skill levels, we aim to give a brief but solid grounding e.g. sushi, chocolate or regional themes but no prior experience is required. They are fun, you learn a lot and should leave feeling satisfied, rewarded and full.
And for a student?
For the student I would recommend our 4 week intensive courses. This equips students with a broad range of core skills, achieved through 90% dedicated hands-on experience enhanced through demonstrations by our professionally trained tutors. Not only does our course provide you with a valuable life skill, it also offers you the opportunity to meet new people and to open doors to a career in the world of food and wine. As part of the 4-Week Course, we also offer an invaluable Interview & CV Building Workshop. Mentored by experienced HR and business experts, this is an excellent opportunity to perfect your CV and hone your interview technique in preparation for either a change in career or to delve into the world of work.
What inspires you the most?
My biggest inspiration is children. People think kids these days are fussy, but I believe it’s often the parents that pass on their fussiness. I love seeing how easily kids adapt to the food environment and how willing they are to try new things. Next week we’ve got 40 kids coming in from Ballgreen Primary School and it’s bound to be a great day.
What’s your favourite food at the moment?
My current favourite is tapas, whether that’s Mediterranean or Indian. I absolutely love Mother India and it’s a must if you like that type of food.
About the School
The Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, a BAC accredited cookery school, opened in 1986 and offers a range of cookery and wine courses to suit everyone from one day courses to a 6 month diploma.
Edinburgh School of Food and Wine is situated just 12 miles west of Edinburgh city centre within a former 18th century Coach House on the grounds of Newliston House.
Edinburgh School of Food and Wine
The Coach House
Edinburgh EH29 9EB
+44 (0)131 333 5001