Perfect your pavé - then sit back and watch the star chefs at work

L'Ecole de Cuisine is based at Raymond Blanc's gastronomic retreat in Great Milton. In the lovely grounds are a well-stocked herb garden and orchard that provide key ingredients for both the restaurant and school. The four-day course comprises the selection, preparation and presentation of meat, fish, seafood, starters and desserts, and teaches some tricks of the trade.

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire (01844 278881; www.manoir.com). Residential courses start from £1,130 including meals and accommodation.

Nick Nairn, Perthshire

This sleek, modern school contrasts with its lochside setting in the foothills of the Trossachs. Five master-classes are offered, including Stocks, Soups & Sauces, Meat, Poultry & Game and the all-important Desserts & Puddings. Each class has hands-on cooking, led by chefs Alan Mathieson and John Webber. Fresh ingredients are literally on the doorstep. The Nairn smokehouse provides smoked salmon, a clutch of hens dispenses fresh eggs and Nick Nairn's wife's has created a herb and vegetable garden to make it a family affair.

Nick Nairn Cook School, Port of Menteith, Stirling, Perthshire (01877 389 900; www.nicknairncookschool.com). A five-day master-class costs £647.50 without accommodation. One-day master-classes are available from £155.

Rick Stein, Cornwall

The Padstow Seafood School proves there is more to fish than batter, chips and vinegar-sodden paper. You name it, they teach it - from cleaning, slicing and frying squid to preparing monkfish curry. The diverse courses include French Odyssey (classic dishes recreated with Stein's distinctive finesse, such as Petit Salé aux lentilles) and Mediterranean Fish Cookery (involving lashings of olive oil, saffron, tomatoes and garlic). The days involve cooking various dishes (including your lunch), then relaxing to watch the head chef prepare dishes in the afternoon.

Rick Stein Seafood School, Padstow, Cornwall (01841 533466; www.rickstein.co.uk). Two-day courses start from £720 including accommodation, or £315 for non-residents.

New Angel, Devon

Based in Dartmouth, The New Angel is owned by Michelin-starred chef John Burton Race and makes the best of its coastal location with plenty of fresh fish. The school opened last year. Courses include "Coming Home" (using local ingredients such as Dart oysters and South Devon beef) and "Seafood" (locally caught mussels in scrumpy). Morning sessions involve trying your hand at the recipes, followed by an afternoon watching the head chef in action.

The New Angel, Dartmouth, Devon (01803 839425; www.thenewangel.co.uk). Two-day residential courses cost £550, including an evening meal at the restaurant; without accommodation, the courses cost £395.

L'Enclume, Cumbria

This popular school is run at Simon Rogan's award-winning restaurant L'Enclume in Cartmel. Rogan aims to "find tastes, textures and fragrances to surprise and delight, not forgetting a little bit of humour": menus include "butternut coming ravioli or not". The two-day course, which caters for four couples or eight individuals, is tailored to the group. It can involve a cookery session in the morning followed (weather permitting) by a ramble across the Cartmel valley, collecting edible herbs.

L'Enclume Cookery School, Cartmel, Grange over Sands, Cumbria (01539 536362; www.lenclume.co.uk). The two-day course costs £279 per person, including one night's B&B.

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