Cooking lessons the Paul Ainsworth way - we try out Mahé in Padstow

So what is Mahé?

It's the brand new cookery school that's part of Paul Ainsworth's flagship restaurant, No. 6 in Padstow. That name, Mahé, comes from the place where his parents met in The Seychelles. We were staying over in his Padstow Townhouse (read more about that here) and were offered the opportunity to try our hand at a cookery class.

Where is the school?

The cookery school is on the first floor of No. 6, just past the bar. It's part counter seating (where you'll eat some of the dishes, and what can also become a private dining room), part kitchen (where you'll be doing all the work), and part terrace (where you'll be having the odd drink). The space can be used for private dining, where the terrace acts as a private bar space. If you're blessed with some Cornish sun, that terrace is a great place to be.

So what's on offer at the cookery school?

Run by John Walton (who has worked with Ainsworth as head chef at No.6 since its opening in 2006), the school offers a number of courses. At the time of writing, these include pasta, desserts, bistro cooking (based on The Mariners), speedy suppers, dinner party secrets, world cuisine and more. Expect more courses to be added over time. Each one lasts from 10am to 4pm. 

As for us, we were on the Travel the World, European course

kitchenWhere all the action takes place. And you can see the very welcoming terrace at the back.

What's the setup of the day?

After a light breakfast, you'll head up to the counter dining space, where you'll be kitted out in chef whites and be given the plan for the day. There will be up to six people on the course, and that small number helps to ensure you get the help and guidance you may need.

There's also lunch halfway through - and on some courses, you'll get to try out something you've been preparing. Lunch is prepared by the No 6 kitchen downstairs - so you'll get a taste of what they're doing too.

And what did you cook?

Here's what we prepared on the day - essentially a three-course meal.

First course: Smoked haddock ravioli in white onion soup.

What we learned: How to make pasta, how to use squid-ink to colour it, preparing the mackerel contents, and putting together the ravioli. We also learned that it's very easy to over-fill and tear ravioli and have to start again. Always have spare pasta.

pastaCreating the ravioli - preparing the onion soup, making the pasta, filling the ravioli

ravioi soupAnd this is what it looks like when prepared by the No 6 team. 

Second course: Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken

What you'll learn: How to butterfly a chicken (easier than we expected, but we're going to need sharper knives), creating the piri piri marinade.  Plus envy for their barbecue.

chicken prepariingThe space where you'll be prepping, the butterflied chicken, kicking things off on the barbecue, and pre-oven. We'll never need to go to Nando's again (but we still will). 

chickenfinishedAnd how it looks when done (and plated by a master)

Dessert: Warm chocolate fondant with summer berry whipped cream

What you'll learn: creating the mix, preparing the moulds and then realising that these are very easy to make once you're shown how. Which is rather dangerous.

moltenSo this one was actually made by the No 6 kitchen - but you'll be able to do this at home after the course. 

Is there plenty to take away?

There is indeed. You'll be taking away everything you've made, ready for the final stages of cooking. That's enough for a three-course menu for four people. So if you're staying in Padstow or nearby in rented accommodation with a kitchen, that's one meal handily sorted. Or if you're heading back to London by car or train, everything will be packed to make sure it gets back intact.

Once I'm back home, what if I forget an important part of the process?

It can be very easy to take a class, only to lose some of the skills if you don't immediately put them into practice at home. But with Mahé, everyone who takes part on the day on the day will be added to a Whatsapp group that includes everyone who took part and the chefs too. So if you need any advice when you're back in your own surroundings, pop into the group to ask for help. We think this is an excellent idea.

And if I just like the look of the space but can't be trusted in a kitchen?

In the evening, the rooms become a chef's table experience (including the terrace) with up to 10 people and a regularly changing menu. You can also hire out the whole space as a private dining room. 

Overall thoughts

We love a good cookery school and this is up there with the best we've been on. Led by John Walton, it's a pleasantly laid-back course and the number of people taking part means you can get as little or as much help as you need on the day. There's also an opportunity to try food from the No. 6 kitchen,  so if you're in the area on holiday and have time - this is well worth considering for your itinerary.

Hot Dinners took the cookery course courtesy of Mahé


More about Mahé Cookery School

Where is it? 6 Middle St, Padstow PL28 8AP

What are the courses on offer? Find all the courses on the Mahé website

How to book: Call them on 01841 550 950 

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @mahepadstow.


Subscribe to be the first to get the news from Hot Dinners

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy.