The brainchild of Jim and Lucy Fisher, Exeter Cookery School is set to open its doors this coming autumn in a Grade II Listed building on the city’s historic Quayside, which is currently the focus of an Exeter City Council-led regeneration strategy. Fresh from running a successful residential cookery school in the Dordogne, and having scoured the country for the ideal venue, the couple have returned to their roots in Exeter, where they first met almost 35 years ago.
Heading up the cooking, Jim was first inspired to cook in his early teens by watching 70s food icon Margueritte Patten, so much so that he created a three-course meal for his family at the age of just 13. Following 18 years working for the Metropolitan Police, Jim re-ignited his culinary flame and entered Masterchef in 1997, making it through to the semi-finals. Inspired by this, Jim then entered and won a Rick Stein seafood competition. Following this, his life as a professional chef was set and he went on to train with Rick at his Seafood Restaurant, but also spent time working with Tony Tobin and Alistair Little before deciding to up sticks and launch their own cookery school dream in France, complete with teenage daughter, Jenny, in tow. Following 14 successful years running Cook in France, they have returned to Exeter to set up the Exeter Cookery School.
Offering a host of exciting culinary courses – each packed with cheffy tips, tricks and techniques honed in busy restaurant kitchens, but adapted to use in your home and designed to make cooking for family and friends easy and stress-free – Jim and Lucy want to inject a large helping of fun into the mix and help people to cook the way they’ve always dreamed. They are also looking to work with guest chefs to offer a variety of food-related topics from wine matching to specialist baking masterclasses.
Having identified Exeter as the ideal location for their new cookery school, the couple looked at several sites in the city before choosing 60 Haven Road. Set on the ground floor of the property opposite the Quay Climbing Centre and alongside AS Watersports, Jim and Lucy have ambitious plans to transform the derelict site into a hive of culinary creations with a New York loft-style interior coupled with the latest kitchen equipment.
Jim comments: “We fell in love with the venue the first time we set eyes on it. The building has just the right combination of history and character, but also provides us with a blank canvas to truly put our mark on. We are still in the planning stages, but are champing at the bit to get started, as we have big ideas to bring our unique sense of drama and flair, backed up with good, old-fashioned cooking knowhow, to the already booming food industry here. We have been keenly attending all the local food festivals and markets, including the vibrant night markets taking place on Piazza Terracina once a month.”
Exeter Cookery School hopes to attract a diverse range of participants of all ages and abilities, from local food-lovers looking to hone their cooking techniques to visitors wishing to combine a city break with learning a new skill. Jim and Lucy also hope to entice office workers searching for a lunchtime or evening escape and corporate groups for a spot of teambuilding with fun firmly on the menu.
Having been identified by Exeter City Council as a prime area for regeneration, including the potential for an exciting new destination theatre courtesy of The Bike Shed, Exeter’s historic Quayside is the perfect location for what promises to be the city’s, if not the South West’s, hottest new cookery school.