Bristol Bites Blog

Bertinet Kitchen Knife Skills Course…and a chance to win a signed copy of Richard’s latest book!

Posted on: June 20, 2010

Friday, June 18th saw me booking the day off work and heading into Bath for a Knife Skills and Carving course at The Bertinet Kitchen.

The school was opened in 2005, and is owned and run by French chef Richard Bertinet – a man whose foodie history  includes training as a baker, multiple head chef stints at various restaurants, a time as Operations Director at the Novelli Group, and running his own consultancy for food-related businesses.

The Bertinet Kitchen offers a variety of courses covering a range of different techniques and cuisines, all of which can be seen on the kitchen’s website. Courses be booked directly through their website, or via the Buyagift website, which also offers overnight and weekend breaks.

The day began with coffee and toast for the six women and two men who attended. As we were handed our aprons and tasked with introducing ourselves to the rest of the group, it was clear that there was a degree of nervousness from some of the attendees, quickly dispelled by Richard’s relaxed, friendly attitude and sense of humour (present as long as we didn’t mention France losing their World Cup game the night before…)

Our education commenced with an introduction to various types of kitchen knife and their uses, before being taught how to sharpen them in three different ways: using a steel, a stone and an electric knife sharpener – handy for those who had brought their own knives along to the class and were able to return home with them perfectly sharpened.

After this, the cooking commenced. The class ended with lunch prepared by the attendees, and was designed to incorporate as many different knife skills as possible. We began with slicing apples finely to make individual apple tarts, using puff pastry that had been made earlier on in the day, and continued by preparing vegetables for a chicken casserole: slicing and chopping onions and shallots (something that I’d highlighted at the start as something I struggle with!) and moving on to carrots, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Some of the onions were used in the casserole, the others cooked over a low heat and used to make a pissaladiere – a Provencale pizza topped with onions, anchovies and olives.

Preparation then for our mid-course snack. Given a tray of thinly sliced prune and cardamom bread, we were tasked with taking thin slices from a block of Cheddar and a whole ham, which we placed on top of the bread to make toasties to accompany our coffee.

The afternoon brought with it a variety of different skills. We roasted a chicken, stuffed with a fantastically fragrant lemon and herb butter, before being shown how to joint a raw chicken – the results of which were used in the casserole,along with the vegetables that we had prepared earlier. I very rarely buy whole chickens (and when I do,they’re just used for roasting) and I was amazed at how little waste was left once we’d finished.

While the casserole was cooking, we had two more dishes to prepare. Richard demonstrated how to slice a whole side of smoked salmon…and managed not to laugh too much at our attempts to do so! This was served with thinly sliced toasted sourdough bread: again, which we sliced ourselves.

The final dish to prepare was one of mackerel fillets with watercress and an anis and citrus dressing. This was the highlight of the knife training for me: never in my life have I filleted a raw fish, purely because I didn’t know how to and assumed that it would be too difficult. Richard’s demonstration, however, showed just how simple it was…and I was pretty damn pleased with the mackerel that I filleted myself!

With everything cooked, all that was left was for Richard to show us how to carve a roast chicken, and we all sat down to eat. Having made our apple tarts for dessert, we all had to take them home with us in the end as we’d eaten far too much! With lunch over, we took the opportunity to buy the tools of the trade and to have copies of Richard’s latest book signed by the man himself.

This day out in Bath had all the makings of a great foodie course: a friendly and knowledgeable teacher, notes to take home with us to remind us of what we had learned, some new skills with which to impress friends and family, great company, and – of course – great food. I’m now just trying to work out which one to go for next… 🙂



Richard has kindly provided me with a signed copy of his latest book, Cook, to offer as a competition prize to Bristol Bites readers.

Published in April this year, the book features 50 classic recipes, aiming to make them as simple and easy to understand as possible. In addition, the book features all sorts of helpful tips for cooks, such as how to thicken a sauce, and which potatoes to use for which purpose.

To enter, simply send an email to, with the subject line “Richard Bertinet Competition”, and tell me the year in which Richard opened the Bertinet Kitchen (if you’ve read this post properly then the answer will be obvious 😉 )

The competition will close at midday on Sunday, July 4th, after which time I’ll announce the winner…good luck!

1 Response to "Bertinet Kitchen Knife Skills Course…and a chance to win a signed copy of Richard’s latest book!"

[…] and the opening of the Three Coqs Brasserie on Whiteladies Road. I think the fact that I went on a knife skills course at the Bertinet Kitchen in June slightly disturbed some of my friends, but the Bristol Wine and Food Fair and Grillstock in […]

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