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Outdoor Cooking

Get back to basics with an alfresco day where you’ll learn how to master the wood fire and cook delicious fresh food, in a rustic stripped-back style.

Gill will equip you with the skills needed to cook outside in a variety of ways, managing your wood fire, and getting the best out of it. You’ll learn about the range of wood on offer, its individual qualities and how it can contribute to the final flavour of the food you cook.

You’ll cook your own breakfast and then get to grips with trussing lamb for asado roasting, tending it in true Argentinian-style during the day, as well as roasting, smoking and cooking fish in clay and bringing it all together for a sumptuous supper at the end of the day.

"Making a fire and cooking something good to eat over it, is for me, one of the simplest, and most natural ways to enjoy food. The process is timeless, I think it’s priceless and whenever I get the chance to do it, I revel in the quiet joy it brings me." Gill Meller, author of River Cottage Outdoor Cooking Handbook.

With plenty to eat along the way, you’ll enjoy a packed day and leave with the smell of the wood fire lingering.

Your day

09:30 - 17:00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and begin your River Cottage experience with a 10-15 minute walk through the pathways down to the farm, enabling you to really soak up the views of the valley.

  • Make yourself at home

    You will meet Gill and start the day with tea, coffee and treats fresh from the kitchen.

  • Session one

    We will begin the day by looking at the principles of wood fire and charcoal cooking, the importance of wood and how to manage your fire.

  • Session two

    Now we'll demonstrate how to truss lamb Argentinian-style for roasting over the fire pit. Everyone will tend to the meat during the course of the day ready for your early supper.

  • Session three

    Now you’ll get chance to cook our River Cottage eggs and home-cured bacon over the fire for your mid-morning breakfast.

  • Session four

    You’ll learn how to roast whole fish on the grill over the fire pit and you’ll try this with freshly made flatbreads, roast tomatoes and salads.

  • Session five

    In two groups, you’ll learn how to salt and hot smoke fish as well as dress whole fish in clay and cook them along with seasonal vegetables in the embers of the fire. You’ll get to try all of this as part of your supper.

  • Early supper

    Gill will untruss and carve the lamb, ready for everyone to help themselves to the supper feast, enjoyed set against the breathtaking backdrop of River Cottage HQ.

  • Departure

    At the end of the day (5pm) you’ll head up the hill, full of confidence to get cooking on your wood fire!

Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.

On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.

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Further information...

This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.

We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.

Stay in our famous Farmhouse, click here. For other local accommodation click here.

We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.

Sorry, we’re afraid this course is not suitable for those with allergies or specific dietary requirements. However we do run Gluten Free and Veg Cookery courses. Please get in touch if you need further details.

With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Food and Travel Magazine 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2018