Regular readers will know that the other hat I wear is my Veg Patch Kitchen Cookery School hat. I set up the cookery school at the end of 2014 and ran my first bread making class in January 2015. It’s a job that I absolutely love. I am passionate about bread and in particular sharing just how easy it is to make delicious bread at home.
It all started here at The Ordinary Cook. In 2009, my contract with a fantastic job came to an end. The economic crash had happened and the sector I worked in was changing. I worked for a public sector venture capital fund investing European and UK government funding in small and medium sized creative businesses in the West Midlands to help them achieve growth and contribute to the region’s creative economy. I had worked for the fund for four years and had studied it as part of my PhD for five years before that. I loved the job and the team I worked with. However, I had also worked (part time and mostly from home) through both maternity leaves. It’s hard to take maternity leave when you are a freelance. In 2009 we had a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I had to make a decision, get another job and work for not very much money after childcare costs or take a career break. I took the career break. I found it tough. It was wonderful being at home with the girls but I suddenly realised that my identity had been tied up with my career and that had gone.
So I set up this blog. It was a lifesaver. I could focus on creating recipes and I could have conversations with people all over the world about food whilst also being a stay at home mum. It was the best of both worlds, (except I never have managed to monetise this blog).
I love baking and experimenting yet back in 2009 I just couldn’t get the hang of yeast cookery. It seemed beyond my talents. I put it on the back burner and decided it was not for me. But I hate to be beaten by anything and it kept gnawing at me that I really should be able to make decent bread instead of a brick. So, I kept practising and reading about bread and I finally cracked it. I was making the most delicious bread I had ever tasted. I became obsessed with bread.
In 2014, with the girls now 10 and nearly 8, and Richard on a constant pay freeze, it became obvious that I needed to go back to work. It was a terrifying thought after five years out of the workplace. I felt that no-one would employ me and that I would be laughed out of any interview. My sister suggested I do a bread class from her house and I said yes. I am so grateful to my sister for that. It helped me prove that I was capable of it. Veg Patch Kitchen Cookery School was born.
At the start of this year it felt that it was going to be the best year yet, my classes were becoming fully booked a couple of months in advance. Then we all know what happened. My last face to face class was on 20th March. My cookery school is too small to allow proper social distancing and our whole ethos is based on providing a really lovely day of learning, relaxing, chatting and eating. I felt that none of this would be possible with masks, visors and hand sanitisers. So the school has remained closed and it looks until it will stay that way until at least after Easter 2021.
The months since have been spent filming, editing and subtitling videos and researching online teaching platforms to offer an online alternative. It’s been an interesting and steep learning curve but finally last week the bread masterclass was launched.
I have created a comprehensive masterclass that takes a step by step approach to bread making to show you just how easy it is to make bread at home and to fit bread making into your day. For me, this feels like a light at the end of the tunnel. It means that the business can keep going. I always knew that I would reopen at the end of all this, but I miss teaching people and this allows me to still do that, albeit in a very different way.
No time for a breather though as this week I will get started filming a Christmas breads class just in time for the (restricted) festivities.
This year has forced all of us to find new ways to work and play, tell me about yours.