Peter Simpson attended the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School in September 2015 when he took the Six Month Practical Cookery Diploma. Peter owns and runs the Pennan Inn in Pennan, Aberdeenshire.This is what he said about his time at the cookery school and since he has left.
Where did your passion for food start?
My passion for food probably started on my first trip to Thailand. I was in my early 20’s and experienced so many new flavours and foods that I immediately became hooked on trying everything at least once. Obviously through natural progression I ended up learning about these different foods and flavours and wanted to start recreating them at home.
What encouraged you to undertake a cookery course?
A few years after my first trip to Thailand I had an opportunity to purchase an amazing property on the North East Coast of Scotland, The Pennan Inn. The hotel was closed down and required a lot of work to get it to its current standard. After our first few months of opening we realised we needed a reliable chef and this is where I began. Self taught through professional cookery books and online training. I found this method of learning was hard and time consuming and I always felt I wasn’t as good or efficient as I should be. I needed something more so I was always looking at intensive professional training.
Why did you choose Edinburgh New Town Cookery School and what areas of the course inspired you?
I chose ENTCS because of various reasons. Location being one, I could still travel home at the weekend as Edinburgh is only 4 hours away from my home. Fiona Burrell, the Principal, and her reputation gained through years of teaching people who want to enter the food industry. Close links to high class restaurants in Edinburgh, I wanted to gain experience at different levels, from high class pub style to Michelin star. Both were achieved with Fiona’s help.
I really enjoyed learning all the different cooking methods and particularly the science involved in food and cooking. The school taught us to understand what science was involved when we were cooking, which led to a greater understanding of the craft and made us better as cooks.
What are the top things you learnt that have been most useful?
There are various methods and techniques that I learnt that have been useful. I was always poor at baking; now I could probably get a job as a pastry chef. After every cooking session the food we prepared was tasted and discussed with the teachers which helped to give an even greater knowledge and confidence. The science of the cooking, knowing why something has or will go wrong and how to fix it can be one of the most useful things in the commercial kitchen.
What would you say to someone considering doing the same course as you?
Go and visit the school and have a chat with Fiona, the facilities are great and the teachers very knowledgeable. Don’t underestimate the amount of things you are going to learn in such a short space of time. The course is very intensive, it’s only once you have finished when you realise how much you have learnt!
Do you have any advice for newly qualified students?
Through hard work and dedication aim high, don’t go to work anywhere, the qualification and school is highly regarded by future employers such as myself. I would not hesitate to employ a student from ENTCS as I know the quality of the training given.
The address of the Pennan Inn is: Pennan Inn, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, AB43 6JB . Their facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/thepennaninn/