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The Cookery School at Braxted Park

Often our kitchens double up as entertaining spaces, play rooms or even offices – 21st century kitchens are frequently used for more than just cooking. However it’s important not to lose sight of the true crux of a kitchen: a space to cook and enjoy food with your nearest and dearest. Our partnership with The Cookery School at Braxted Park reinforces the high value that is placed upon a kitchen’s primary function as a place to cook and working on their professional kitchen was a project we particularly enjoyed.

Braxted Park is a stunning Queen Anne house set within 500 acres of Essex parkland. Located between Kelvedon and Witham, this beautiful country manor house is less than 10 miles from our Colchester showroom. Our partnership with The Cookery School began in 2011 when the existing cookery school moved premises. What was the old boiler house at Braxted Park became The Cookery School’s new home, and the bespoke professional kitchen built to fit this new space was designed and manufactured by Davonport.

When it first opened in 2009 the Cookery School at Braxted Park employed a team of award-winning professional chefs, offering a selection of classes for a wide range of abilities. The unique experience on offer at the school proved incredibly popular, leading to the 2011 move and expansion.

The Cookery School at Braxted Park offers an array of cooking courses across a wide range of specialities, with impressive professional chefs. Amongst the selection of top chefs teaching at Braxted Park is Masterchef winner Peter Bayless, food author Ursula Ferrigno and TV chef Emma Crowhurst.

The range of cookery courses you can enjoy is extensive, from ‘The Essex Coastline – Seasonal Fish and Shellfish’ to ‘Lebanese Street Food’, to ‘Gastro Pub at Home’ and ‘French Patisserie’. Also on offer are specialist diet courses such as ‘Gluten Free Pastry’ and seasonal specialities including ‘Christmas Stollen and Brioche Master Class’ – the variety of different courses has something to appeal to every palette

For the creation and design of The Cookery School kitchen the brief was clear – to create an ergonomic space for students and professionals to cook together. Though a professional kitchen, the owners were keen to maintain a home-like feel and avoid the space looking or feeling clinical. They were also keen to find a design that matched the beautiful setting of the Braxted Park estate and Queen Anne house.

There were several challenges to overcome through the design process in order to achieve the finished kitchen. For example the now-kitchen was originally four separate rooms with differing ceiling and floor heights. The beauty and heritage of the building had to be considered throughout the whole design process with several decisions made specifically due to the building and its history. For example, the whole kitchen was designed to echo the architectural arched windows – a stunning feature of the building. Ventilation was another feature that required special consideration due to the building’s age. Large extraction vents protruding from the building were simply not an option, however powerful extraction was absolutely essential in the kitchen. Extraction is so important partly due to the need to remove odours such as spices and fish from the room from one class to the next. As well as this, commercial gas regulations required adequate extraction and air flow before gas could be authorised and switched on. Therefore The Cookery School at Braxted Park needed highly effective extraction, but did not want unsightly vents. The solution was to incorporate low-level roof vents which could be hidden by the parapet that surrounds the front of the building. The environmental aspects of the kitchen were also considered; a grease trap was installed into the sinks in order to catch excess grease and oil to prevent polluting the local wastewater.

The ergonomics of the room were also an essential factor in the design process. As a professional kitchen, the design was originally  for 18 students but the brief changed and this rose to 22 students. In order to accommodate the extra students two removable sections with concealed wheels were integrated into the curved island. This meant that they could either be integrated within the main curved island or moved towards the back of the room depending on space. Each workstation has its own Quooker boiling water tap, hob and extractor. Most of the hobs are gas however the removable sections benefit from induction hobs; gas safety regulations made it too complicated to have gas hobs on these movable areas.

The Cookery School is kitted out with domestic Miele ovens, hobs and dishwashers – these products were specifically chosen due to their performance and reliability as well as to reflect many of the students’ own kitchens; using domestic appliances makes recreating the recipes at home easier.

The aesthetics of the room were carefully considered. As mentioned earlier, the arched windows which offer stunning views over the Braxted Park estate were retained and provided the inspiration for the curved islands in the room. The cupboard doors were constructed from a high gloss acrylic, which created a reflective light, clean and hygienic space in which to work. To avoid over using white and making the space feel clinical the curved back panels were made using English Oak – this adds a sense of character to the design, softening it and blending the kitchen cabinetry with the character of the original property. The main section of the island has hygienic Silestone worktops running from the island top down to the floor. A high level of investigation was required to find a flooring material which was both functional but still aesthetically pleasing, and commercial non slip tiles were the ideal solution.

The Cookery School at Braxted Park now hosts around 100 classes every year. The success has been outstanding and, with an ever-growing list of cookery classes on offer and a professional kitchen equipped for ever more complex and busy classes, there seems to be no end in sight for this unique cooking experience. We are proud to have been chosen by Braxted Park to design and create their kitchen and hope that customers continue to enjoy the expert classes there.

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