Cooking fresh, moreish, nutritious food can really improve your health and happiness, so it’s no surprise that everyone’s taking cookery lessons these days, or buying one as a gourmet gift for a fellow gourmand.

With more than 1,000 cookery schools in the UK, how do you find the best class for you? The answer is to make sure you book with an Independent Cookery Schools Association (ICSA) school.

You might dream of spending a week on beautiful Dartmoor, perfecting your macarons at the renowned Ashburton Cookery School. Or, perhaps you wish to seek inspiration at Tante Marie Culinary Academy, whose distinguished cookery courses run from beginners’ lifestyle classes to professional Cordon Bleu diplomas.

Those with an interest in London’s vibrant food scene might choose to learn Malaysian or Peruvian cookery at the prestigious Leiths School of Food and Wine, set up by Prue Leith in 1975. It has the widest programme of amateur and professional courses in the UK.

Meanwhile, out in Surrey, Squires Kitchen’s International School has been teaching the art of cake decorating and sugarcraft since 1987, covering everything from the basics of beautiful baking to working with chocolate. And, down in Kent, you can learn from the legendary and charismatic celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, whose classes including ‘Pasta, Risotto & Gnocchi’ and ‘Flavours of Asia’.

Near Winchester, in the stunning grounds of the exclusive hotel Lainston House, Season Cookery School is just a stone’s throw from Lainston’s brimming kitchen garden. Classes are diverse: from show-stopping meat dishes and knife skills to gluten- free and vegetarian cooking and more.

Vegetarian food is a real art form, so why not get a taste from the experts at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School in Greater Manchester. They create delicious cuisine in small groups in a fun and friendly atmosphere. With courses for both professionals and home cooks, you’ll love the ‘Regional Indian Cuisine’, ‘Beat the Heat’ and ‘Vegan Toolkit’ courses.

Finally, baking aficionados will love the Bertinet Kitchen in Bath, where Richard Bertinet offers specialist courses in breadmaking, pastry, Viennoiserie and patisserie at all levels, as well as a range of other courses.

Whichever cookery class you choose, you can be sure that if you book an ICSA school, every detail, from insurance and equipment to teaching and course content, has been rigorously inspected to make sure you get the best experience — so you can book with confidence and enjoy a great new world of food.

All ICSA accredited schools in this guide accept our new ‘Greatest British Cookery School’ gift vouchers. You can buy securely online. Send via email for that last minute present or order gift wrapped with a personal message. Ideal for Christmas!

For a list of participating ICSA members and for secure online Cookery School Gift Vouchers purchase visit here