Arches Cookery School
Grinkle Park Farm
Grinkle Park Farm sits majestically on the side of a stunning valley with moorland on one side and long views to the sea on the other. Once the ancestral seat of industrialist Sir Charles Palmer, who made his fortune mining iron ore, Grinkle was a ‘show farm’ complete with glazed greenhouses growing pineapples! Palmer was no stranger to monumental architecture, and the towers, pillars and inscribed stone lintels remain to this day.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better location for a cookery school – the views alone are inspirational. It’s Sarah Muir’s family home – she was born and raised here – and after learning her trade in local pubs and restaurants plus a stint at Scarborough College, she embarked on a 25 year international career as ‘chef to the stars’, cooking for rock royalty, including Elton John, Van Morrison and Madonna.
In 2010 she decided to come home and establish Arches, converting a beautiful 200 year old cart shed into a state of the art, fabulously-equipped kitchen on the farm – her brother works the land and her sister, top British eventer Paddy, runs the livery.
‘I’ve had an amazing time touring with the likes of George Michael, Bob Dylan and Oasis, but after two decades of living out of a suitcase I had a hankering to come back to Yorkshire and use my experience to share my love of cooking with other people. I’ve learnt so much from chefs around the world that I wanted to pass some of it on.’ One of the first things Sarah did was plant an orchard, and today there are four varieties of apple, plums and damsons, all of which she uses in her classes.
‘The courses I have created are influenced by my globetrotting cooking adventures from Europe, the Pacific Rim, Japan, South and North America, and Australia. But of course we have outstanding produce right on the doorstep, so I run courses using fish and seafood from Whitby, game from the estate and locally farmed meat. Our bread comes from Stonehouse Bakery in Danby and Just Jelly in High Hawsker provides our accompaniments to the meat and cheese dishes.’
The day courses are designed to suit all levels of skill and interest, including classic French dishes, field to fork, a taste of Tuscany and a Thai masterclass. There’s bread and patisserie making and a vegetarian day too. Who could resist ‘Domestic Goddess Day’?
‘We are surrounded by lush green fields, atmospheric woods, vast open moorland and dramatic coastline’ smiles Sarah. ‘We try to source all our ingredients from within a 25 mile radius of here, and of course we’re blessed with some of the best produce in the county right here in North Yorkshire.’
Sarah still tours once a year as a personal chef with Radiohead, ‘but my heart is back in Yorkshire, and I relish every moment spent here’ says Sarah.