Cooking has always been a key part of Rosalind’s life. After teaching cooking in South Africa for three years, when coming back to the UK the dream of a cookery school lingered in Rosalind’s mind. As you’ll hear, it is not only cooking that lives in her heart – but teaching too. Rosalind is an amazing character with a big heart, who takes us back to what cooking really is this week – simple and a skill that is 100% essential to people of any age… Particularly in the era of the microwave and growth of sustainability.
00:00:00 Marks Introduction
00:02:10 Meeting Rosalind, setting the scene in Little Portland Street
00:02:55 The start of Rosalind’s ‘mischievous’ career
- 00:04:18 “I used to have people coming to the house that were then called the servants. The girl or the boy – and they would come to learn to cook. You had white classes and black classes – you couldn’t mix them.”
00:05:37 Why did the local kids come to Rosalind?
- 00:05:50 “Once they’d learned to cook, they’d become the cook. That’s really an extension of what they were doing – but they would be in the kitchen, and that would allow them to feel as if they’d made an advancement. Perhaps a bit of extra money came with it if they were lucky.”
00:06:11 Where did Rosalind’s cooking skills come from? Talking about Rosalind’s family roots
- 00:06:50 “We used to take cakes mainly into the home industries, and they would judge them. And I was allowed to be late for school that day, and I’d sit very proudly in the back seat of the car with a tray balanced on my lap with two or three different items on it, on paper plates with your name stapled to them… In later years – my mum, my aunt and I used to compete against each other.”
00:07:29 The style of teaching at the beginning – demonstration cooking
- 00:07:59 “They had homework every week. So they’d have to go home, cook something that they’d learnt in the lesson (one or two dishes) and bring them the next week for everyone to taste.”
00:09:26 Coming back to the UK after three years – learning all about teaching
00:10:41 What Rosalind would change if she was in charge of the curriculum that teaches food at schools
- 00:11:48 “An intensive week of cooking – that would just allow them to experience the joy of cooking, it would be age appropriate – with that automatically goes where ingredients come from. So you’re learning about the provenance, about seasonality, what grows in your area, that sort of thing. And at the same time you’re learning about diet.”
- 00:13:12 “We hear people say ‘I can’t cook because I can’t chop like a chef’… My mother couldn’t chop, my grandmother couldn’t chop like a chef either. Nigella can’t chop like a chef, and they all produce beautiful food. I think there are a lot of myths one has to destroy.”
00:13:47 The problems in our current food culture
- 00:14:42 “No one cooks much at all because you can buy instant food. You can go and buy a meal in a tray, and all you do is pop it into your microwave… Microwaves have changed the culture massively too.”
00:15:56 Setting up the cookery school in 2003, the aims and plans behind this
- 00:16:37 “Before I knew it I had this huge study skills practice, and I was seeing about 40 children a week.”
- 00:18:00 “That night I was repeating that story to my husband and daughters who happened to be home, and they said ‘This is your chance! You’ve always wanted to have a cookery school. Do it!’ And that is when we found the space.”
00:18:48 Going full time in cookery school in 2006
- 00:19:36 “The first thing I did actually was in a block of flats. We were the first flat in a huge block of flats, and that’s where I took the first teaching… And all the people in the building complained. We were stopped! They shut me down!”
- 00:21:04 “On one particular course we had one man that did a three day course. The two of us with one man there – and my family said: ‘Are you absolutely crazy? Why didn’t you cancel it?’… I said no, we can’t, if we teach him how to cook he’ll go away and tell other people about it and that’s how we’ll build up.”
00:21:47 The motivation behind Rosalind’s teachings
- 00:22:13 “It’s about bringing back good home cooking skills, the things that I’m seeing people have missed out on over the past, increasingly, over the past 50 years.”
- 00:23:35 “It’s also making them feel very empowered. You’ve gotta feel you can go away and do it – we never ever reprimand anyone.”
00:24:46 Rosalind’s most intense course – six weeks, taken from can’t cook to cooking everything
- 00:25:11 “If you were in schools, you see how much time wasting is happening in schools and in colleges – how much sitting around it is, how much chatting time. Yeah, the socialising is really nice, but if you really want to learn things you can learn very rapidly.”
- 00:28:34 “So at the end of a class, a three-hour class, the people that are learning to do soups will have six soups under their belt. And no soup – the following week we do stews. The following week we do roasts.”
00:30:41 The growing market for older people learning to cook – is it there?
00:31:49 What upsets Rosalind about the cooking world?
- 00:32:12 “There’s this feeling that you have to be able to cook well. Cooking is just so straight forward, and reputations are just so flimsy.”
00:33:38 Why is it important chefs know where food comes from?
- 00:34:43 “We live in a society now where you can get anything, any time of the year, provided you’re prepared to pay for it. And also, no one has any idea what the season is.”
00:37:07 Rosalind’s love of sustainability – how can you be more sustainable in the kitchen?
- 00:38:07 “I think if you actually say ‘you have to do this or that’ without a reason, without understanding, that’s a tall order.”
- 00:41:10 “Our sustainable journey has been a slow one, and a learning one – it hasn’t been overnight. And now it’s just in our DNA.”
00:42:00 Methane as a challenge, and is the solution about eating less meat?
- 00:42:43 “Have meat, but have smaller portions of meat. Use organic, grass fed meat so you know where its coming from. Use every part of the animal so it’s not wasteful – and where you can, stretch it.”
00:45:06 Chatting all about the leadership courses ran by Rosalind
00:52:36 Does Rosalind have any plans for retiring? What’s next?
- 00:53:44 “I think that you only really have one chance. You’ve got to say and do what you believe, and you’ve got to live by that.”
00:54:49 Rosalind loves Jamie Oliver!
- 00:55:39 “I think we do too much these days of doing things from the bottom up – with the enthusiastic people, there’s gotta be a government commitment. It’s as urgent as climate change.”
00:58:05 If you want to find out more about Rosalind’s cooking school, where should you go?
00:58:17 Marks final thoughts and sign off
If you’d like to lean more about Rosalind, her cookery school or even about sustainability in the kitchen – check out their social channels and website below… Or, listen to the full episode here.