I have always enjoyed cooking and find it quite relaxing to potter and experiment in the kitchen at the end of a busy week.  Over the years I have built up quite a range of recipes that have been tried and tested on friends and family and even on larger groups.  The downside of this when life is  full is that it easy to fall back on old favourites and flavours that everyone enjoys rather than experimenting with new techniques.

My meeting with Fran at Waipoua Lodge provided just the inspiration I needed.  Visiting New Zealand from the UK, my husband had booked a night here as a treat for me whilst on our travels.  The welcome, the comfort, the company, Fran’s superb cooking and the accompanying wine made this all just perfect.  What made it absolutely unique was the opportunity to visit Fran in her kitchen, talk and watch her work and to sign up for the online cookery school.

Since coming home my husband says I have definitely raised my game in the kitchen!  I have made two serious purchases after talking to Fran. The first is a bread maker and we are now enjoying a delicious range of home made breads.  The second is a vacuum sealer – something I would never have entertained buying but now see that for a small outlay this can really enhance the food preparation process and can facilitate preparation days or even weeks in advance.  I have purchased, filleted and aged a whole fillet of beef and we definitely noticed the difference in taste and tenderness when I cooked my first chateaubriand.   We delighted our New Year’s Eve guests with a sumptuous meal which included Fran’s Chicken Terrine and her Chocolate Mousse.

I am just a self-taught cook who loves to prepare and share good food with friends and family.  I learned so much from my brief time with Fran and now she is at the end of an email if I have any questions.

Anyone who enjoys cooking should sign up right away!!

Helen GilbertBirmingham - UK