British Classics at The School of Artisan Food

Alan Greenhalgh is a blogger for ManInLondon. He recently attended one of our introductory patisserie courses.  Read his blog here.

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Our Head of Business takes you to the heart of setting-up a food business

Bristol Food Connections
Friday 29th April 2016
12.30pm – 1.30pm

Bristol Food Connections is a unique city-wide food festival that delivers more than just the opportunity to watch others cook and instead offers up experiences, inspiration and learning that transform the way we think about food. The festival will be returning for its third year from Friday 29th April to Saturday 7th May, embracing Bristol’s independent spirit and supporting the farmers, chefs, food projects and businesses that work tirelessly to put good food on our plates.

Friday 29th April at Food Connections is all about nurturing ambitious fledgling food businesses. The Seed Fund Business Boot camp will provide workshops and talks, including a Business Planning Masterclass from our Head of Business Yvonne O’Donovan.

In this unique one-hour, business planning masterclass, Yvonne O’Donovan, Head of Business at the School of Artisan Food, takes new food businesses on a whistle-stop tour of the questions you really need to be asking if setting up a new food enterprise. This class is not about spreadsheets, forecasts and figures, but rather how you get to the heart of what your business means to you.

“I will teach you the answers to nothing” says Yvonne, “but instead I will teach you the key questions to ask at the right time to make sound financial decisions.”

How can you develop a plan for a journey whose outcome is unknown and whose destination is undiscovered? Yet failing to plan is planning to fail.  So what information is essential to your future and what can you do without?Drawing on a career that spans more than 25 years as a business founder and serial entrepreneur in culture and agriculture, Yvonne prides herself on seeing straight to the heart of a business proposition and crunching the numbers to see if your idea is viable, regardless of how much you might love it.

Yvonne O'Donovan to present at the Bristol Food Connections

Days: Friday 29th April
Time: 12.30pm – 1.30pm
heme: Brainfood
Speakers: Yvonne O’Donovan

Location: Travelling Barn, College Green
Buy tickets here:


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Swedish cheesemakers visit the School

A group of 13 Swedish cheesemakers recently visited the School for 4-days of training and familiarisation trips.

Taking note in the classroom

One of our cheesemaking tutors, Paul Thomas, led the event with the Swedish Farmhouse Cheesemakers Organisation. Paul shared his knowledge of the production techniques behind British cheeses including Stilton, Cheddar and Lancashire.

         The group also visited cheesemakers at Stichelton, Sparkenhoe and Appleby’s Cheshire dairies.

Paul Thomas sharing his knowledge with students

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Bakery and Patisserie students make the grade

We were delighted to host a three-day baking course for bakery and patisserie students from Cheshire-based Reaseheath College. The 17 Foundation degree students completed the artisan bread making session with our French master baker, Mickael Jahan. The students made a wide range of products including laminated pastries, sourdoughs flavoured loafs, ciabattas and rye bread.

Well done to all who attended and good luck in your baking studies
and future careers! 

Reaseheath College students get set up for a day of baking

Reaseheath College students get set up for a day of baking

Baking skills being taught by Mickael Jahan to Reaseheath College students

Smiley faces at the end of the day from students and our tutors

Hello,  I was one of the students from Reaseheath College that attended the course with Mickael.  I just wanted to say thank you, I learnt a lot and hopefully this will help with my ongoing course.  The food in the refrectory was amazing.  I would be grateful if you could pass on my thanks to Mickael, David who was so helpful and the team in the refectory.  

I look forward to attending another of your courses, on a personal basis.

Kind regards
Carrie-Anne Thompson




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From Nottinghamshire to Jordan – baking bread across continents

Kareem Arafat from Jordan’s capital city Amman, attended our Artisan Bread Baking course in 2014, taught by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.  Follow his journey so far…

Little less than two years ago, I attended a baking course at your School. Back then, I was interested in doing a career move, and one thing I was exploring was baking bread!

The mill in nearby city called Madaba, near my parent's farmhouse.

I remember coming back to Jordan all pumped up after taking your baking course, all inspired by the values of real food and artisanal processes that you taught me and that of the people in your School. I clearly remember that black board in the breakfast/lunch room that was titled “our food” and you had spelled out how you see real food.

Of course, Emmanuel and David were amazing teachers. I consider myself so lucky to have been taught the principles of bread making by them. Emmanuel is amazing, and I say so because he not only teaches you how to make bread, but how to feel the dough and have fun making bread, and eventually how to fall in love with bread.

The oven in the farmhouse

When I came back to Amman, I started baking in my home oven and selling it in one of the small farmers market in the city. I used to make 10-15 loaves a week. Then I started reading a lot about brick ovens and actually built one in my parent’s farm house in the basement which was unused.

At the community center in Jabal Al Natheef district of Amman, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. Ladies doing chia seeds coated bread.

Today I bake five days a week, around 1500-1800 loaves a month. I do all the kneading by hand and use wood or gas to heat the oven. I started selling through Whatsapp along with farmers markets, and then, I agreed with a tiny kitchen restaurant in the centre of the city to put my bread. I also supply five restaurants and cafes in the city. It’s been now 16 months selling from the brick oven. And yes, I am totally sleep deprived and have perfected the art of sleeping in 15-minute intervals while the dough relaxes. :)

I use as much as I can local ingredients. My white flour is milled locally, but unfortunately imported most of the time from the US. But I also mix it with locally grown wheat that I buy from farmers near me, and I turn into whole flour in a nearby village mill. Salt is from Dead Sea. I do only two kinds of bread, ciabatta and country sourdough loaf.

In the small kitchenette of the community center, transferring the knowledge of bread making to these ladies.

Now I am thinking to start a bakery and become a licensed business! I am hoping to be able to hire women from poor pockets of the city to empower them economically and socially. Let’s see where this will end up :)

End of the year is a good time to remember the people who were good to us. The School of Artisan Food has been a great place to learn and explore baking. Thank you for being who you are; thank you for the values you bring and the awesome people who mentor.

Love from Amman and keep doing what you do.

Kareem Arafat

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Companio Bakery on Track

Russell Goodwin, a graduate from the School of Artisan Food has set-up an innovative business model for his delicious artisan products, selling to Manchester commuters. His recent Crowdfunder Campaign helped raise funds to kick start his business – here’s his latest update…

Significant progress has been made at Companio Bakery in the last 7 weeks. Building works including construction of a toilet, decorating and floor painting are all complete. Electricity, plumbing and lighting have all been installed. A large bread oven with four stone decks has been installed and a dough table has generously been donated by the Handmade Bakery.

I did my very first bake from my new bakery premises last week which was tremendously exciting and it feels great at last to be filling the neighbourhood streets with the delightful aroma of freshly baked artisan bread. To start with I am just baking on Tuesdays and Thursdays and selling sourdough breads and savoury danish from my bakery between 12pm and 3pm. I then go on to trade from 4pm to 6pm at Manchester Victoria Train Station on Tuesdays and Salford Central Train Station on Thursdays. Eventually I aim to bake Tuesdays to Fridays inclusive and also run artisan bread-making courses periodically at weekends.

Last Tuesday I traded at the newly re-developed Manchester Victoria Train Station for the first time. The station has undergone a wonderful transformation and Companio Bakery’s market stall is located on the main concourse next to the new Metrolink tram station entrance. Customers were excited and surprised to be able to buy artisan bread on their way home, and people were very complimentary and enthusiastic so it is great to get off to an encouraging start. I continue to trade at Salford Central Train Station on Thursdays where I have developed many loyal customers.

The bakery fit-out and purchase of the deck oven has been made possible through people’s generosity in making Bread Loans. These loans, with interest offered in bread or bread-making courses, have proved hugely popular and this vital community-support has been incredibly heartening and instrumental in getting the bakery up and running. So far £22,000 has been loaned which is amazing so I now only require £8,000 to reach my overall target of £30,000. The main items I still need are a spiral mixer, a large commercial fridge and a pastry dough sheeter for making patisserie. In the meantime, I am continuing to mix my doughs at a temporary kitchen unit in South Manchester but I now drive across the city to my unit in Ancoats where I shape, prove and bake my breads. I hope through meeting new customers in Ancoats and Victoria in the coming weeks that it will not be too long before I get further investments to help reach my target.


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The Grand Feast 2015

Our Grand Feast, led by acclaimed food historian Ivan Day, went down a treat with our guests.

The seven-course feast of Restaurant Soup, Punch à la Romaine, Sorbet, Trout with Leafy Vegetables, Suckling Pig stuffed with Macaroni, Royal Salad and Spongata with Parmesan Ice Cream was delicious and, with Ivan’s commentary on each dish, we were transported back through time to the era of the Grand Tour.





















This unique banquet was organised in partnership with The Harley Gallery.

The Grand Tour reinterprets world class collections through contemporary art across four venues in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It is a partnership between Chatsworth, Derby Museums, The Harley Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary together with Experience Nottinghamshire and Visit Peak District and Derbyshire.

The Grand Tour has been funded as part of the Arts Council England and Visit England’s joint Cultural Destinations programme.

For more information visit The Grand Tour

Read the FishWife’s Kitchen Blog on her experience of The Grand Feast

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Food for Thought Lectures

On the 17th and 18th of May the School held its annual Food for Thought lectures. The 80-seat lecture theatre was jam-packed with delegates who had travelled from all over the country to listen to some of the UK’s top food experts. The presentations and discussions covered some serious and fascinating topics with many points of view and interests emerging.  The opportunity to chat in the breaks and to exchange ideas over lunch was seized by some, whilst others went for head-clearing walks. Everyone agreed that every speaker was engaged with both their subject and the audience in a way that was thoughtful and energising. The pizza at lunch was also rated extremely highly!

The programme:

1) Chris Dee – CEO Booths Supermarkets
Chris talked about the challenges that face a supermarket which not only has to operate in a competitive market but which is committed to supporting small local producers and makers.

2) Ivan Day – Food Historian, scholar, broadcaster, writer and cook
Ivan gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the British pie.

3) Allison Palmer – Bassetlaw Food Bank Co-ordinator
Allison explained the history of our local food bank, how it works, who benefits and how it is staffed by volunteers. She gave practical advice about how to support it and talked not about politics but about human decency.

4) Bee Wilson – Historian and food writer, author of four books and columnist in the Sunday Telegraph
Bee talked about how we learn to eat and, among many other things, the challenges posed to culture and people by convenience foods.

5) Andrew Sharp – Cumbrian butcher, teacher and broadcaster
Andrew demonstrated how to butcher Herdwick mutton and spoke about the precious ecosystem on which these sheep graze and the history of the breed.

6) The Pizza Pilgrims – owners of Pizza Pilgrims restaurants in London
Thom and James told the hilarious and instructive story of their journey to Soho via Naples and Berwick St Market, illuminating the progressive aspects of the street food scene and some do’s and don’ts about food business start-ups.

7) Sheila Dillon – Renowned food journalist and presenter of the Radio 4 Food Programme
Sheila’s topic was Why Bother? She spoke eloquently about people such as Randolph Hodgson and Andrew Whitley who have bothered about access to good food in the UK. Her own campaigns around BSE and food traceability were cited as examples about why it is worth bothering.

8) Andrew Whitley – Baker, teacher,  author and founder of the Real Bread Campaign

Andrew spoke about the state of the bread industry in Scotland and, among other things, how vested interests prevent local sourcing. He laid out a programme for a more sustainable future.

“The choice and breadth of the subjects was a perfect balance and must have taken much thought and preparation.   It was never an indulgent look at ‘wonderful ways with foody ingredients’.   But it did make us think, learn, laugh, marvel and gave us a renewed determination to spread the word and even perhaps get involved in a community project. You looked after us so well.   The food was superb (best quiche I have ever tasted) and all arrangements were beautifully accomplished.” Gill Searle and Cherry Burgess.


Many thanks to Christie’s Fine Art Auctioneers for their sponsorship of Food for Thought.


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Diploma student on track to set-up community-supported artisan bakery

“The idea is to sell to people on their way home at a time of day that suits them – perfect for supper or ideal for breakfast.”

Russell Goodwin is the owner and founder of Companio Bakery – Manchester’s first Community Supported Bakery. It’s an innovative business model where artisan breads, savouries and pastries are baked in the morning and sold later in the day to commuters at train stations as well as from the bakery premises.

Russell studied on the first Advanced Diploma in Baking at the School of Artisan Food, graduating in 2011. Inspired by tutors Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and Wayne Caddy, he went on to gain valuable baking and business experience working for three years as an Artisan Baker and Director of the highly successful Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire – one of the UK’s first community-supported bakeries.

“I’ve created Companio Bakery because I want to provide Manchester with high quality, slow-fermented, healthy and nutritious sourdough breads as well as savoury danish and delicious patisserie – all made by hand using traditional methods and natural ingredients.”  A vital aspect of the business model is about lifestyle. Russell explains, “I love baking real bread but it often means working anti-social hours, however, this model means no working through the night or early starts so my customers get to enjoy quality bread at their convenience and I get to have a life too!”

Russell has already started baking from a temporary kitchen unit in south Manchester from March this year. He is currently driving to Salford Central Train Station and setting up a small market stall but is having a bread bike trailer built to be able to cycle to train stations in the near future. Business has been going extremely well and he has already built up a loyal following of customers who are delighted and surprised to be able to buy quality bread from their station. He aims to start trading from Manchester Victoria train station in July this year.

Russell is currently seeking funds through a Crowdfunder Campaign and hopes to raise £10,000 in 28 days towards the bre
ad bike trailer and getting his permanent bakery premises fitted-out and equipped:

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Food photography

Latest blog from Jo Blogs Jo Bakes who attended our first Introduction to Food Photography course

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