Due to the coronavirus outbreak Leiths has made the difficult decision to cancel all planned courses (except our online courses) until the end of May. In these exceptional circumstances all students who have booked places on our courses will be offered the opportunity to cancel or reschedule their course. If you are currently in the process of taking a multi-part course, you will be offered new dates to complete the course later in the year. Of course we will be dealing with a high volume of calls and emails and we thank you for your understanding and patience during this unsettling time. We look forward to cooking with you at Leiths in the near future.



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Students are on the brink of foundation exams but first, there's a buffet to assemble...

So, here we are, somehow waving goodbye to Week 8 already. The end of term and Christmas are glimmering ahead of us, but we’re not slowing down just yet. This week was a particularly busy one, as we had both our mock practical assessments and our buffet assignments to get through. The former was first thing on Monday morning, which was a pretty intense start to the week. Mock exam meant mock exam conditions, so no talking to your fellow students, which feels very odd after eight weeks of working while Jack sings nineties pop hits and we all discuss whether or not our chicken is cooked through. The atmosphere in the kitchen was much more tense than usual as everyone got down to business. The less said about my cooking that day, the better: luckily, I have plenty of time to get my act together before the final exam. Or, at least, that’s what I have been telling myself.

Our buffet, on the other hand, was a success. We had been given a tight budget to work to and had to choose our own menus, cost everything, and buy all the ingredients ourselves: with power comes responsibility! One of the best things about the challenge was that we got to sample buffet food made by other groups, so we had three delicious and beautiful lunches cooked for us this week. Our group’s final menu was:

  • Beef and booze mini pies
  • Mushroom and mozzarella arancini with thyme and aioli
  • Roasted root vegetables with rosemary and feta
  • Winter crunch slaw with honey mustard dressing­­­
  • Kale salad with figs and pomegranate
  • Gingerbread with pears, pecans, and cinnamon cream
  • Apple, cardamom, and oat crumble

Despite the usual last minute rush to hit the service time, everything went well and, most importantly, people seemed to enjoy the food. I ended up having about three pieces of the gingerbread because it was so good. I ate a chunk of it out of tupperware like a starving wolf on my train home, despite being given seriously judgemental looks by the suited businessman next to me.

We were also treated to a lot of guest demonstrations this week. It’s always good to have someone visit from the outside world and remind us that it is possible to have a career in food and love it, and that once we get to the end of this year we will actually, technically, be qualified for something. Our Tuesday afternoon dem was with Peter Vaughan, an engaging, passionate presenter who worked and spoke at 96 miles per hour for his whole talk. He fed us delicious, healthy food – always good to reset the balance when I am currently using brownies as my main energy source. On Wednesday our dem was with Jane Nemazee, who is a bit nuts in the absolute best way. We were thoroughly entertained throughout her session, and though it was probably halfway through the afternoon before she actually got round to cooking anything, I enjoyed her stories about her career so much that I couldn’t have cared less. I think it was the first time everyone clapped at the end of a dem.

On Thursday we were visited by Jenny Chandler, who showed us some delicious Spanish food, including an empanada (huge Spanish flat pie) that was so tasty that some people decided to go home and make it immediately.

Next week is our final full week of teaching, and then we have our practical exams the week after, before our beautifully and ridiculously long holiday starts and I must get to thinking about this whole Christmas thing. I genuinely spend all my time now either eating, cooking, talking about food, or deciding what to eat next. I know, I know: it’s a hard life.

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