By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor @TLE_Food
Having learnt her craft alongside acclaimed chefs such as Pierre Koffmann and Jean-Christophe Novelli, before becoming Head Chef at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and beginning to focus heavily on teaching her collected cookery skills, Rosemary Shrager has become quite the Celebrity chef. In recent years Shrager has appeared upon a number of Television series, including Soapstar Superchef, Ladette to Lady, Taste The Nation, and more, alongside appearing on 2012’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Now, the culinary Queen has opened her very own cooking school in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and will be teaming up with the Chateau Lou Casteou in the South of France for a six-night Gastronimic Experience, planned to take place between April 25th and May 1st.
The luxurious food and wine appreciation even will be hosted by Rosemary Shrager and is set to feature daily cookery classes with Rosemary herself and Executive Chef John Rogers, a series of Butchery and BBQ master-classes, a three-course meal prepared by Rosemary and her team, each evening, lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and more. Not forgetting six night’s luxury accommodation at the Chateau Lou Casteau.
So with the lavish food fans’ extraordinaire well on its way, The London Economic caught up with Rosemary for a quick chat about the upcoming event.
Hi Rosemary, how are you today?
I am very well thank you! It’s a thrilling time at the moment in the cookery school, with new apprenticeships starting and a brand new dining room for 2015.
We’ve heard that you’ll be heading over to the South of France in April for a six-night “gastronomic experience”. Could you tell us a bit more about that please?
Absolutely – it’s terribly exciting, having spent many long summers myself in the South of France and also worked there too. The cookery retreat at Lou Casteou will be a culmination of all things I love – fresh Mediterranean cuisine, good wines, local markets and idyllic scenery. The chateau really is a special place, enjoying a unique and private mountain location, with views across the Cote d’Azur.
It sounds like the perfect getaway for any food enthusiast. What made you decide to team up with Chateau Lou Casteou for this event?
I decided to team up with Lou Casteou, simply because it is the most magnificent, beautiful old chateau and anyone attending the course and staying there, will feel extremely special. Surrounded by outstanding flora and fauna, Lou Casteou also boasts a professional kitchen – perfect for teaching.
You’ve become quite renowned for your style of haute cuisine, it seems like a week of cooking in France is going to be right up your street?
As I am classically trained, it will be a pleasure to show guests how to create the most delicious dishes, made from exquisite local French ingredients.
Also, it’s become apparent that you’re putting a lot of focus into cookery teaching, what with your school in Kent. Do you prefer teaching to your restaurant work?
Teaching is very, very different from restaurant work, which I don’t really do these days as it a young person’s game! I therefore concentrate on teaching and actually wish I could have had someone like me, to tutor my younger self. I get so much pleasure from seeing people learn classic cookery, knowing they will be able to recreate sumptuous dishes with ease at home, for friends and family.
What made you decide to start teaching?
I have always loved teaching, since I started seventeen years ago. As a naturally bossy person, I think it was a logical step to follow my heart and share my passion for food with others! There’s no denying it can be hard at times, but I simply love it when people come away knowing some shortcut skills. And I especially love dong our corporate days, when people can get out of the office and have some fun in the kitchen.
When did you learn to cook? Was it something that came relatively naturally or did you have to endure some extensive training?
Cookery was a hobby at first for me as a little girl, always helping my mother in the kitchen. I initially trained as an interior designer, however cooked throughout my studies and first role in that industry. After this point then I then decided it was time for a sea change and left to work in a hotel kitchen, which I loved – learning on the job. I then went on to work for some truly renowned chefs, learning the hard way, which accounts for why I never perhaps had the confidence I should have had, like those who had come out of catering college. This perhaps is one of the reasons I love instilling confidence in others now, through my teaching.
Finally, aside from teaming up with the Chateau Lou Casteou, what’s next for Rosemary Shrager? Do you have anything else exciting in the pipeline for 2015?
Absolutely! I have a new book out in May. Plus, we will be expanding the apprenticeship programme at the school, which are very close to my heart.
The six-night, all-inclusive luxury residential break at Chateau Lou Casteou in the Cote D’Azur, South of France, will run from Saturday April 25th – Friday May 1st 2015. Priced at £5,650 per couple or 2 sharing and £3,250 for a single guest. Further details can be found at http://www.loucasteou.com. For cookery courses, chef tables and more at Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery School in Royal Tunbridge Wells please visit Rosemary Shrager.com.