Can Rick Stein’s Cooking School Make Me a Seafood Chef in One Day?

I consider myself fairly capable in the kitchen. Meat Maestro. Sauce specialist. Altogether, a passionate cook with a penchant for reinventing restaurant dishes at home.

That is, until it comes to seafood.

While I can get a decent baked salmon or fish curry easily, my arsenal of seafood recipes is fairly basic. There’s no competition for the smoldering lobster thermidors, the salt-baked turbines, or the dover sol à la meunières I’ve enjoyed in restaurants.

Of course, these dishes aren’t as easy to prepare as a great steak, tagine, or taco. These dishes require ingredients of the highest quality and the skill of an experienced hand. Spending a small fortune searching for sources of wealth and butchering said ingredients for experimentation never seemed to be the best way to learn.

Fortunately, this is not the only way. And discovering Rick Stein’s Cooking School seemed the best for me personally.

In 2000, celebrity seafood chef Rick Stein opened the said cooking school in the small North Cornwall town of Padstow (aka PadStein, His company that bears his name now operates five restaurants), quickly earning a place as one of the best in the country.

Over the past two decades, it has become a popular choice for budding, amateur, and professional chefs alike, offering one-day courses for vacationers and locals, as well as more advanced and longer courses for those with time on their side.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people, so the classic one-day course of seafood dishes (£225/US$270) was just the right fit for me.

Promising to teach participants a number of time-honoured fish dishes at Stein’s world-famous seafood restaurant, there simply wasn’t a better (or more challenging) option.

Fortunately, from the second moment I entered the building, Chefs Nick Evans and Aran Lightholder made me feel at ease. Having worked at several Stein restaurants over the past few decades, they have been the most trusted teachers – and their creations – you could possibly hope for.

We didn’t have a class of experienced chefs, it was a delightful mix of seafood lovers, beginners, couples and people of all ages trying to learn something new. And boy, did we.

Over the course of seven hours, we removed the scales and fillets for a classic fish stew with rouille and croutons, and made restaurant-worthy dishes of Dover sol à la meunière, a grilled troconon of seagull with hollandaise, and lobster thermidor. Which I think is fair to say defies everyone’s expectations.

This was not “grabbing this prepared fish and adding it to the cooking class in the skillet”. This was a crash course in sourcing. Slices. Roll making. trimming; skinning; frying pan; Making hollandaise sauce making noises Humanely kill, cook, and prepare lobsters; burning. Flavor balancing, and more.

All in a gorgeous, state-of-the-art kitchen with quartz marble workstations to boot.

At the start of each course, Evans and Lightholder will demonstrate key steps at the front of the room — with the help of hand-controlled cameras that allow you to have a magnified view of the most complex skills on two upper screens — before sending us to work as a king.

Fortunately, individual cookbooks are provided detailing each step from the moment you arrive (in case you need to re-check anything on offer) and chefs make their way through all the stops to answer (the inevitable) questions and lend a hand when needed.

The best part? All. Not connected. something. we. creature. I was. Tasty.

After completing each dish we were invited to sit down and enjoy it with a glass of wine. That gear, Dover Soul, lobster, fish stew, And the Incredible Fruit Plateau (taught as a demonstration before serving).

The meal is so decadent it’s worth the cost of the course alone.

Of course, you don’t want to drive home after so many vino courses, and the postcard-worthy seaside town is probably worth spending more time on than in a day. If you want to stay the night (and I advise you to), Stein’s has rooms available at most of their local restaurants as well as new traditional shepherd’s huts at their historic country pub, The Cornish Arms, just a 10-minute taxi ride away.

All in all, I couldn’t think of a better way for seafood lovers to spend their time and money. And I now have an arsenal of ultra-luxury seafood recipes to prove it.

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