Cookery School



Voiceover: Andrew Scarborough


Chef: Richard Corrigan

Mentor and judge: Gizzi Erskine

Food journalist: Richard Johnson


Red House for Channel 4, 31 January to 15 April 2011 (50 episodes in 1 series)


Daytime show in which six amateurs attempt to learn cookery skills from Richard Corrigan, who believes that anyone can learn to cook a decent meal, but will nevertheless ruthlessly kick out any contestant who doesn't come up to scratch. Mixed messages, much?

Richard teaches a masterclass.

The format is simple enough: each day, Richard makes three dishes which increase in difficulty (except that sometimes instead of an easy dish, he'll give the students a free choice to make whatever they like). Monday is starters, Tuesday fish (you never hear of a fish course outside of TV cookery shows, do you?), Wednesday main course and Thursday dessert. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the worst student gets eliminated, leaving three who cook what were previously their worst dishes on Friday to (hopefully) show how much they've improved. The top student of the week goes through to the final.

And now it's the students' turn to cook.

Gizzi and Richard have a good cop/bad cop thing going on, which feels somewhat contrived and unconvincing. But on the positive side, there's a lot more emphasis on the cooking here than in many foodie competitions. If anything, it's more of a cookery show broken up with competition elements (which makes Corrigan's put-on bad cop persona feel even more out of place), with the amateurs' efforts giving the hosts the chance to point out and correct the sort of mistakes that unexperienced cooks are wont to make.

Gizzi and Richard with the specials board at the Cannibal Cafe

The "school" theme is a nice conceit which runs through the show without becoming overdone, mostly being used as an excuse to throw in a few pleasingly low-tech elements (the blackboard with names on it, the ringing of a handbell to signal time-up).

The expelled student's name is crossed off the blackboard.

Despite the mixed messages, it's an above-average food show with a strong educational bent. Our mum likes it (though she does think Gizzi's name is Dizzy) and has made Richard's roasted couscous dish and says it's "really nice". And there's not really a higher compliment you can give to a cookery show than that, is there?

The judges prepare to eat.

Theme music

Alexandra Benedict and Tris Taylor, a.k.a. Mogul and the Prawn


Ryan Philpot


Cookery School (hardback book)


"Students" are identified by first name and age
A nice easy one.
Gizzi and Richard judge.
For the final judging of the day, they are joined by food journo Richard Johnson


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