Landslip is off the menu as cookery classes go ahead

Rothbury chef Mary Wilkins with business owner Lou Renwick who is running cookery classes at Cragend farm
Rothbury chef Mary Wilkins with business owner Lou Renwick who is running cookery classes at Cragend farm

Two empowered women are digging into a new venture despite a landslip closing the main road just yards from their business.

Lou Renwick, who owns Cragend Farm, near Rothbury, has teamed up with local chef Mary Wilkins to provide a truly Northumbrian dining experience.

Mary, who is a well-established chef, has worked in establishments such as the Savoy, the Ritz and worked with Jean-Christophe Novelli in his Bistro W8 in London’s Notting Hill.

When she moved back, Mary set up Wilkins Fine Dining with her husband.

During this time, Lou and her husband Shaun recently acquired Cragend Farm and are transforming the granary, dairy and cow byres into a family home and holiday lets with a kitchen area perfect for cookery classes.

A landslip in 2012 closed the main road to Rothbury, but not letting this get in the way, Lou and Mary joined forccs and started classes.

Lou said: “I think it’s challenging for a business as a whole but I think for us we just said ‘we’re just going to go for it, it’s a good thing that we’re doing, Mary is a great chef.”

Mary added: “In Northumberland you always have to travel to where you want to get to be.”

The duo opened for business in February at Cragend Farm and are already getting bookings for groups of all ability and sizes.

Mary said the courses were ‘covering a wide variety of subjects that different people may like so we’re going to have a Spring Supper’and we’re fully booked for that’.

“We’re just trying to hit a little bit of everything so everyone gets either a little taster of it whether it was the fish or some nice vegetables that we’ve grown in our garden and just trying to keep it local fresh and seasonal.

“This job is a bit of added fun that Lou and I decided that we were going to do – girl power!”

The courses range from around £40 to £45 per course and are designed that you can learn and enjoy the food as you go while Mary shows you the ropes.

The pair are also very open to private bookings for parties or groups that want to come along and experience fine Northumbrian cuisine.

Courses range throughout the year from barbeque bonanzas to winter warmers.

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