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10 game cookery schools in the UK to investigate

Cooking the game you shoot is all part of the sport... But if you've recently come to shooting, you might need a helping hand to get your culinary skills started. Or if you're a seasoned shooter, you're probably on the look out for some new recipes and ideas to revitalise your game cuisine. Here (in no particular order except that they're all good) are 10 cookery schools specialising in game to help you move things along...

game chefs

The chefs' school at the River Cottage cookery school

We’ve chosen courses the length and breadth of the country. All have accommodation nearby if you fancy a short break or want to enjoy some well-deserved wine with dinner.

Game chef of the year

Mike Robinson presenting Game Chef of the Year at the CLA Game Fair in July

1. Mike Robinson Game & Wild Food Cookery School

If you were at the CLA Game Fair in July, you might have seen Mike Robinson hosting The Field’s Game Chef of the Year finals. Well, he certainly knows what to look out for as he is one of the country’s top game cooks. Mike runs The Pot Kiln pub in rural Berkshire and the Michelin starred Harwood Arms in London. If you’d like to learn from a master then book yourself on a full or half day course at his Berkshire cookery school. Beginners and experts both welcome.

2. Vale House Kitchen 

If you’re interested in knowing all the basics – from butchering your own venison and plucking, skinning and gutting – this cookery school near Bath is the place for you. Owners and chefs Bod and Annie Griffiths have very much a “field to fork” philosophy and the school also runs courses in foraging, which you might find handy.

3. Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School

Experience one of the game cookery days here and you’ll enjoy a three course meal with the dishes you cook. You’ll learn something new about game and cook with whatever locally sourced game is in season. Sample recipes might include: tandoori partridge, Persian style venison meatballs, pheasant breast saltimbocca and Valencian paella with rabbit and pheasant.

brace of pheasants

And so it begins … Credit: River Cottage

4. River Cottage Cookery School

Apparently when he was at school, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was nicknamed “Hugh Fairly-Long-Name.” We don’t know whether he’s ever called that at the cookery school he founded but he certainly does know about game.  If you’re looking for inspiration on how to prepare the wild meat in your larder and you’re in the Devon/Dorset vicinity then get in touch. You’ll learn crucial preparation and kitchen skills as well as skinning and jointing, plucking and drawing, curing and smoking a variety of game birds and rabbit – transforming them into delicious dishes.

5. Malton Cookery School

With the wild bounty of the North Yorkshire moors on the doorstep, there can’t be many better places to learn about game cookery. This renowned school offers a variety of day cookery options including an Easy Game Day and a Yorkshire Game Masterclass.

6. Bridge 67 Cookery School 

A cookery school in Leicestershire that aims to give home cooks the confidence to return to their own kitchens and experiment with game. You’ll learn how to layer up terrines with pigeon, venison, pheasant, black pudding, ham hock and cabbage and advanced tips for searing and roasting, creating stocks, pates and sauces.

7. Leith’s School of Food and Wine

Leith’s trained cooks have rolled up their sleeves and cooked many a shoot lunch. So if you’d like the inside track, a day at this London cookery school could see you on the start of a new career. In any case presentation is key when cooking and you’ll learn how to present your dishes in the most appetising way, as well as refining your repertoire of game dishes.

breasting a pheasant

Learning knife skills

8. Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

Here the style is show and cook. You’re shown in a demonstration how to prepare and cook the game and then you go off and do it yourself, preparing dishes like: venison and chestnut pie, Moroccan-style rabbit one pot stew with preserved lemons, pan fried pigeon breast with plum sauce and toasted hazelnuts, warm pheasant breast, pancetta and pistachio salad.

9. Streamcombe Cookery School

Deep in the heart of Exmoor, courses are held here in the cookery barn and give you the opportunity to explore cooking game in different ways. You’ll leave with new ideas about how to cook more seasonally with some new recipes up your sleeve.

The celebrated London hotel holds game masterclasses from time to time. If you think you deserve a treat, want to celebrate the game season and have some time out in London, then this day fits the bill (and might make a luxurious birthday gift for someone.) You start with tea and coffee in the famous Claridge’s Art Deco Foyer and then experience a practical tutorial which explores the different ways of preparing and cooking grouse, partridge and venison.

Pigeon with blackberries

Pigeon with blackberries and chanterelles – taken from the River Cottage Game Handbook, published by Bloomsbury Credit: Tim Maddams/Bloomsbury