Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

Food and drink courses

22 March 2016 ( 26 March 2021 )

Whether you want a change of career, improve on an old skill or learn a new one, there are food and drink courses to suit all tastes.

Cooking school
There are schools and courses across the country where you can learn a wide range of food and drink skills

Whether you're looking to brush up on your skills or make a bold career change and move into the world of professional foodies you'll find courses up and down the country to cater to your needs. From evening courses to professional qualifications, read on to get an idea of what's available across the UK.

Cookery courses for amateur enthusiasts

River Cottage

Born again foodies of the local, ethical and seasonal persuasion could polish up their skills at River Cottage near Axminster in Devon. Hosted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s assembled team of experts, there’s an eclectic range of courses from beekeeping and foraging to advanced gluten-free Cookery and a one-day cookery course. River Cottage also offers courses accredited by City & Guilds, including Meat, Veg and Desserts though these are primarily aimed at those already working in food preparation. The Professional Cookery Level 3 qualification would suit those looking for a sous chef role.

Kent Cookery School

Kent Cookery School in Ashford offers a host of beginner, intermediate and advanced evening classes and day-long courses. There's a staggering amount of choice, whether you're looking to learn how to make Vietnamese street food, brush up on your knife skills or learn some advanced breadmaking skills.

The Chocolate Academy

The International Chocolate Academy, with a UK base in Banbury, Oxfordshire, offers a range of online and in-person courses for chocolatiers. Learn how to make exquisite seasonal chocolates such as Easter eggs, Valentine's Day chocolate or Christmas treats, or learn how to master basic ganache, vegan chocolate or tempering.

Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

As well as offering professional cookery courses, Edinburgh New Town Cookery School also includes over 30 courses to suit any level of skill, from half day workshops and evening classes to longer courses running for a few days or even a few weeks. There are courses tailored for children, courses for teenagers about to head off to university, courses for matching wine to food and many more. Get stuck into a fish and shellfish workshop, learn how to cook with game or get to grips with sushi.

Related: changing career and 50 plus

Courses for budding professional chefs

City & Guilds

For information on a wide range of qualifications in hospitality and catering, developed in conjunction with industry experts, contact City & Guilds. Courses include Professional Cookery, Barista Skills, Patisserie and Confectionary, Bartending and even Butlering – no previous experience required. Prices on application.

Leiths School of Food and Wine

For anyone wishing to work as a professional chef, launch a catering business or even open their own restaurant, few courses open as many Michelin-starred doors as Leith’s renowned but pricey three-term Diploma in Food and Wine. The course comprises the Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Certificates, all of which can be taken separately. On its own, the 10-week Foundation Certificate includes a WSET Certificate in Wine. Based in West London, Leiths prides itself on its unstuffy approach and having its finger on the pulse of the latest foodie trends, from street food to fashionable Peruvian cuisine.

Related: can you afford to be a mature student?

Tante Marie Culinary Academy

The UK’s longest established independent cookery school, based in Woking, Surrey, focuses on teaching practical skills in state-of-the-art surroundings. La Tante can be a strict mistress, encouraging students to develop the high levels of discipline required to cook beautiful food to the highest standards. Students are instructed by the same team of professional chef tutors, whether they’re taking the three-term Cordon Bleu Diploma (£18,450) or one-day Lifestyle courses such as Fish Workshop and Three-Course Dinner Party (both £160).

Le Cordon Bleu

Answer the call of la toque blanche at the crème de la crème of cooking schools based in London’s Bloomsbury Square. The three-term Grand Diplôme (£32,950) is your passport to the Michelin stars, while those with more earthbound ambitions might consider short courses such as Butchery Workshop (£135) or Creative Vegetables (£200). For budding wine buffs there’s the Wine Essentials evening course (£553) covering classic European wines and a systematic approach to tasting them.

Cordon Vert Cookery School

Those with aspirations of running a vegetarian venture should check out the Cordon Vert Chef’s Diploma (£1,678) at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School in Altrincham, Cheshire. The five-day course is aimed at professional chefs, “or maybe just an experienced cook wanting to get into vegetarian catering”. Students will gain a clear understanding of vegetarian catering requirements and learn to develop an imaginative approach to menu planning.

Courses for brewers, bartenders and wine lovers

Wine and Spirit Education Trust

Learn how to swirl, sniff, slurp and spit with the professionals. From the Level 1 Award in Wines (£150) right up to the two-year Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits (£3,340), the WSET provides first-rate education for dedicated enthusiasts and those already working in the drinks business. Visit the website to find your nearest Approved Programme Provider.

Plumpton College

Would-be winemakers and those with a hankering to work in just about any wine-related field should enrol at Plumpton. Nestled at the feet of the glorious South Downs in East Sussex, it’s the only higher education institution in England offering degrees in both winemaking and the wine business (£8,000). The college has its own 23-acre vineyard and state-of-the-art winery, and all students get to help with the harvest and selling the 25,000 bottles produced each year.

UK Bartenders Guild

Master the skills of shaking, stirring … and drinking with a one-week International Bartenders Course (£774) certified by the UK Bartenders Guild and Shaker Bar School. Students also receive a WSET Foundation Ceritificate in Spirits. Or start with a one-day Cocktail Masterclass (£149) for a practical foundation in the mechanics of mixology. The schools are in London and Birmingham.


Join the craft beer revolution with a nine-week Brewlab Diploma in British Brewing Technology (£9,445) in purpose-built premises in Sunderland. Or take a two-day Introduction to Craft Brewing (£550), taught off-site at selected venues, covering the theory of brewing with essential tips for assessing your market, choosing your equipment and starting a small business.

Related: doing a degree in later life


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related Topics