What was the inspiration behind launching Ruth’s Little Kitchen?
I loved teaching food and nutrition, especially setting up two departments and organising the high skills videos for the exam boards, but I knew I wanted to work to the beat of my own drum and re-connect with the food community – and so Ruth’s Little Kitchen was born.
Tell us a little bit about your background before then...
I was brought up in an award-winning hotel in the north of Scotland - local food and cooking from scratch was key from the start! After completing a degree in photography, I worked for one of the largest PR agencies in London before moving to Hong Kong as a staff writer on a magazine, reviewing restaurants and diary events. When I came back to the UK, I detoured into project management for Ericssons and later Atkins. I retrained as a Food Teacher to fit around family commitments. Throughout this, I have always been involved in some way with helping within the community and connected to quite a few local food producers.
Has the concept of Ruth’s Little Kitchen evolved much since you first launched?
The concept for RLK has always been Teach, Cook, Share, Eat. I am passionate about teaching and cooking from scratch – and clichéd as it sounds, sharing my love of baking and cooking. It is not just showing people how to cook, it is about communicating what is available, talking to producers, informing an audience and helping the connection between food and provenance. I have a no-waste policy and, where possible, work sustainably. Before lockdown, I was offering drop in cook together sessions, giving people a chance to cook and connect. I also worked with those in assisted living facilities. However, during ‘these times’ I just use social media more to connect. It suits me well but I am looking forward to getting back to normal.
How have you adapted to the challenges thrown at all small businesses this year?
Before lockdown I was running full workshops, guesting at Bread Ahead, private lessons etc - all going tickety-boo. Then, bam! Everything came to a grinding halt, except bread - everyone wanted bread!
It was an immediate reaction to offer free “Lives” (online sessions). I needed to connect and feel useful. Initially I was terrified, but being included in a Delicious Magazine round-up of the best online courses was a major boost. It gave me the confidence to begin to reach out to other small businesses and find out what they were doing.
I have been connected to the DofE scheme since school, and I decided to write and produce a series of three 12 week modules aimed at teaching core cookery skills at a reasonable price.
From the Lives I was doing for Yours Digital, I was then was offered the food editor job for Yours Magazine which I am loving. I have also have been working for a major brand developing recipes using their product, which is really interesting.
Tell us a little bit about the courses you’re running at the moment, and how they work?
As one of the few official Duke of Edinburgh activity approved providers in the UK, I wanted to offer access to high quality teaching at a reasonable price. There are three courses: Baking, International Cuisine and Classic. Each course comes with 12 accompanying videos, step-by-step recipes and supported with Zoom catch-ups. It is also a great course for university students.
I offer classes for adult and children - either online or in person - teaching core skills. My passion is bread-making and pasta, but food styling for Instagram and afternoon tea are very popular. I also offer bespoke, corporate and also recipe development.
What’s the best thing about teaching someone a new skill?
If you provide a relaxed and informative friendly environment, people, regardless of age, completely relax and focus on the moment.
As well as courses, you make award-winning bread. Is that something you’ve always enjoyed doing?
I am a daughter of a potter. I love creating something so marvellous out of flour, salt and water. I prefer a good wholewheat loaf stuffed with seeds or I do a lovely porridge loaf. I teach sourdough and that is fun - but holey bread just wastes butter!
How do you balance the classes with baking orders?
Presently I have stopped the waiting list and I fit the bread around everything else. It is a balance I have yet to find.
What is your proudest moment to date with Ruth’s Little Kitchen?
I could say my two awards, or perhaps the mention in Delicious Magazine in their round up of the best online Cookery Schools. Honestly, I just feel proud to have adapted, kept my authenticity and helped in my community when it was needed.
You recently collaborated with LFB members Bramble Farm Turkeys. Tell us a little about that...
I have always enjoyed meeting people and hearing their stories and learning about food journeys. Collaborating enables me to do this. Meeting Adrian and Sarah at Bramble Farm Turkeys was brilliant and the free range, slowly matured turkey they produce is something else. It was great to work on a range of recipes that really showed the versatility of their meat. It is exceptional.
And what did you most enjoy about the resulting turkey dishes?
When you go to their farm and see all the birds in this lovely location and the care that Adrian and Sarah take over their flock, you know that the produce is quality. The taste is incredible, quite unlike anything I have ever tasted before.
Do you have any other favourite local food and drink producers who you’d like to recommend to our readers?
I absolutely adore the Betled Galloway beef produced by Manor Farm in Wotton - if you have not tried it, you should. I love all the cheese produced by Alsop and Walker; milk and cream from Aldhurst Farm; butter from Libby’s Larder. I love all the fresh produce from Secretts in Milford. J Chitty and Son Butchers in Brockham make the most amazing chicken sausages, which I almost don’t want to tell anyone about as they are always selling out of them! Further north, the Really Garlicky Company has the best garlic and Hardmuir has the most amazing purple sprouting broccoli. I love Holy Island Gin in Northumberland too.
Why do you think it is so important for people to Stay Loyal to Local at times like these?
When you shop locally, it connects you to your community. You are contributing to an income and investing in your environment. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
Finally, do you have any exciting plans for the future with Ruth’s Little Kitchen?
I have and they involve some exciting collaborations which will involve food. I’m also always happy to hear from any Local Food Britain members who might like to work together or just chat local food.
Tags: cookery school
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