School of Food - FAQs

Teaching & classes

Kitchen requirements

Coverage area

Specialised classes


Other stuff

School of Food Corporate

Teaching & classes

Where do your classes take place?

We come to home and teach you in your own kitchen. We teach using your own cooker and kitchen equipment.

How much do your classes cost?

The cost varies depending on how many people participate in the class. See How We Charge for more details.

How many students do you teach at a time?

Our classes are normally for 1 to 4 people and for larger groups by special arrangement. The size and layout of the typical domestic kitchen means that not every kitchen is suitable for larger groups - so we need to have a brief discussion if you are interested in arranging a class for a larger group. Please contact us to get the ball rolling. We also run events and parties for larger groups.

How long do each of your classes last?

Our classes normally last either 2 - 2.5 hours or 3.5 - 4 hours - it says which on each class's description page. This allows plenty of time for cooking, eating and discussion and we find it is an optimal duration in terms of students staying alert - the learning curve is steep in our classes!

I see your classes all last 2 - 2.5 hours or 3.5 - 4 hours. Why the range?

Every kitchen is different and, depending on how the kitchen is set up, the same class can take a longer or shorter time. Rather than surprise anyone by a class over-running we prefer to give a slightly flexible duration for the class. This also allows a bit of extra time so no one is put off asking lots of questions. And don't worry, the class is never shorter than the lower end of the range stated.

What experience level is needed to do your classes?

We work with cooks of all experience levels - different classes are geared to different experience levels. On the description page for each class you can see the required experience level for that class. If you are in any doubt, please get in touch to discuss.

What types of cuisine do you teach?

Most of our teaching concentrates on modern and traditional British, French and Italian food. We also have expertise in the food of other regions, in particular the Asian cuisines. And our teaching approach - particularly to flavours - mean that our students generally find it easy to understand and pick up new cuisines fast.

Can you alter a class to work around my allergies / dietary requirements?

Where possible we endeavour to work around any dietary requirements and, if needed, to alter elements of the class. This flexibility is a big benefit of private classes! Please note that it is not always possible to avoid ingredients and that is essential you discuss any allergies or special requirements before booking a class.

Kitchen requirements

What is needed from my kitchen?

Our classes can be held in almost any kitchen - even small ones! We do require work space (with enough room around it for all the participants to watch) and the equipment listed below. Apart from that the only important things are that it is clean, dry and safe. Unfortunately we cannot run classes in kitchens where there is a safety risk to either tutor or participants; this covers issues with gas, electricity and water installations, hygiene problems and any other safety issue. If you are in any doubt about whether you kitchen is suitable please contact us to discuss.

What equipment do I need for a class in my home?

We plan our classes around the facilities that are available in the typical home kitchen. A modestly equipped kitchen will be fine - hob and oven, with work space, a good sized chopping board, knives, basic utensils and a selection of pans and oven dishes are all that are required. For classes that require unusual specialist equipment (such as Pasta Making classes) we can often provide the equipment; where it applies this is mentioned in class descriptions.

My kitchen really is not suitable for you to teach in. Is there somewhere I can come for a lesson?

We don't have a teaching kitchen of our own - and not having that big overhead is one of the reasons we are able to offer lessons in your home at such competitive prices. If a kitchen has space to cook in and fit two people we can normally teach there, but if you are sure yours is unsuitable then consider getting together with a friend for a lesson in their kitchen.

Coverage area

In what areas do you give lessons?

Our operating area is London (as defined by postcode), Richmond on Thames and Kingston upon Thames. With enough advance planning we can often arrange classes further afield. See Areas We Cover for more information.

Will you travel to give classes outside your coverage area?

We are happy to consider travelling outside our normal London-based coverage area but unfortunately cannot guarantee that we will always be able to. The further in advance you ask us about it, the more likely we are to be able to arrange it. Please note that out of area classes normally entail a premium on our normal rates to cover travel time and costs.

Do you have any plans to offer classes in other areas?

Yes we do! If you have an area that you would like to nominate for School of Food coverage please let us know.

Specialised classes

Can you give me a personalised lesson?

At the moment we do not offer fully bespoke classes - but we can often alter a class around your requirements. So, if you do not like a particular ingredient, would like to try a different dish to one normally cooked in a class or would like a shorter or longer class, we can often arrange it. Just contact us with your requirements.


Are you legitimate?

We most certainly are. We are a Limited company, registered in England and Wales. We are insured for what we do, and all our tutors are certified in Food Hygiene. On top of that, we take pride in offering an excellent service. You can read more about our credentials here.

Who are your tutors?

Our main tutor is Alastair Instone, a professionally trained cook with years of experience cooking in private homes, restaurants, ski chalets and yachts. Other tutors sometimes teach specialist classes; as well as being excellent cooks, they are all trained in the School of Food's teaching methods and service standards. You will always be told in advance who will teach your class.

I am worried about letting a stranger into my home & can you reassure me?

We understand your concern. But don't worry: our tutors are honest, friendly, unthreatening people who we would happily let into our own homes. They have all undergone a comprehensive recruitment process and are carefully trained in how to behave in clients' homes and we always tell you in advance who to expect. If you would specifically prefer a male or female tutor please contact us before booking to check that it is possible for your choice of class and time.

Other stuff

Can you organise a lesson for me with a celebrity chef?

Unfortunately this isn't something we do.

Can I give a class as a gift?

Definitely! You can choose and book a class on someone else's behalf - but please check the appointment time is convenient for them before you book!

Do you sell gift vouchers?

Unfortunately we no longer sell Gift Vouchers. If you have an unexpired Gift Voucher you can still use it to book a class - but we no longer selling new vouchers.

Do you do events for corporate groups?

Yes we do. Normally these are held either in staff recreation areas, the kitchen of the directors' dining room, or at the home of a senior employee. Because corporate groups tend to be larger than our normal groups they take a bit of extra planning and we sometimes provide more than one tutor. See our corporate cookery events page for more details.

Can you cook a dinner party for me?

No, unfortunately we do not offer a catering service.

School of Food Corporate

You sound great! Can I work for you?

Maybe! Any positions for which we are recruiting are advertised here.