Harts Barn Cookery School: making cooking accessible to all

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Yvette Farrell grew up on a country estate where she saw how land should be managed, and how game keepers maintain its equilibrium and work with nature.

This led to her developing a passion for the natural resources available in the British countryside, which also happen to be great ingredients for a variety of original tasty dishes.

Nothing should go to waste

She worked as a horticulturist for 16 years and gained extensive knowledge of plants and their culinary uses. Yvette’s philosophy is that nothing should go to waste, especially as Britain has such an abundance of food. The Forest of Dean is the perfect setting for her cookery school. Harts Barn Cookery School was launched in order to make cooking accessible to all.

The deli at Harts Barn
The deli at Harts Barn

The Historic building was built in 1086 for William, Duke of Normandy as his hunting lodge. In a way, Yvette has carried on with this legacy and she cooks with venison and wild boar from the forest. However, she is an inventive woman who is always on the lookout for new recipes and one of her latest endeavors involves cooking with squirrels. This may make some folk squeamish, but eating the little fellas is quite common in the US. In fact, they do a lot of damage to the trees and keeping their numbers down is part of forest management in the Forest of Dean. They are usually burnt or put in landfill, but that’s just good, fresh, free range meat going to waste!

Challenging cultural perceptions…

People in the UK are used to pork, beef, chicken and lamb, but the kinds of meat we eat are essentially down to our culture and attitudes to food. If wild animals such as boar, venison and squirrels are going to be culled anyway, why not eat them before we consider farm raised animals?

This common sense approach to food waste has led to Yvette creating more adventurous dishes and people love them. She uses good quality ingredients from local producers, so you can expect to see plenty of game, Gloucester Old Spot pork and Double and Single Gloucester cheese. She also uses local plants such as blackberries and the wild garlic that grows in abundance throughout the Forest of Dean.

Pick up some of the best local brews at Yvette's shop.
Pick up some of the best local brews at Yvette’s shop.

Fun classes for people of all ages

Her various classes attract a large range of people of all ages, including children, and she is now running bar nights when people can also sample food from around the world.

“Forest Flatbread” packed full of locally sourced ingredients!

Her large, spacious kitchen overlooks beautiful farmland and woods. There’s no doubt that Yvette has built a business to be proud of, with sound ethics, and her personal take on local ingredients and food waste sets her apart from other cooks. She makes delicious foods such as her “Forest Flatbread”, which has to be tasted to be believed.

You can see Yvette at the Forest Showcase Food & Drink Festival on 5th October.

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