<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

John Whaite - Great British Bake Off winner opens cookery school in Wrightington

PUBLISHED: 11:43 21 March 2016

John Whaite and sister, Jane Tasker

John Whaite and sister, Jane Tasker


Introducing our new food and drink columnist John Whaite. Emma Mayoh went to meet him at his new cookery school

John Whaite John Whaite

The pressure John Whaite felt when he took part in – and eventually won – The Great British Bake Off is nothing compared with the tension building at his family home in Lancashire. This Easter, the whole family will be battling out to make the best food for the holiday celebrations.

‘It is like being back on Bake Off,’ John said. ‘Everyone thinks they have made the best cake. My sister says she knows hers will be the best. She’ll say “I don’t need to have a competition, I know mine is better”. But I secretly know mine is.

‘We always try to make an occasion of our family get togethers. We have Sunday roast together as much as possible and Easter is great fun. ‘

Although he had originally planned to become a lawyer – he was sitting his final exams at University of Manchester when he won the BBC television competition - food has been his love supreme. From his childhood, growing up on a dairy farm in Wrightington he has been surrounded by British produce and he has learned the importance of local producers from mum, Linda. His first job was at his mum and dad’s fish and chip shop in Eccleston where he used to peel potatoes aged just ten. Before that he showed signs of wanting to make a living from food selling pick and mix to his school friends, under his teachers’ radars.

After winning Bake Off, John, now 26, made the inevitable move to London to keep up with the demands success brought. His weeks are often spent doing interviews, recipe development, television and food festival appearances as well as his regular spot as resident chef on Lorraine. He also spent time studying at Le Cordon Bleu. But next month he will move back north with partner, Paul Atkins, a designer also from Lancashire.

John Whaite John Whaite

Not only will it mean he will get more time to spend with his family – a big reason for moving back to Lancashire – but it also means he has lots more time to focus on his new cookery school. He’s spent two years converting a 400-year-old listed barn on his family’s farm with the help of local contractors and his brother-in-law, Stephen. He launched it at the beginning of January and within a few days of being open, his cookery classes and lessons were getting fully booked.

John is offering everything from baking and cookery to chocolate and patisserie – the afternoon tea course is the one in most demand. He’s running it with one of his sisters, Jane Tasker, who is kitchen manager.

‘People love hearing the banter we have between us,’ he said. ‘It’s a fun way to spend time with my sister too. We call each other Maureen and Maud and it seems to have stuck.

‘People want to hear about Bake Off, of course, but that’s nice because that’s been a big part of what’s happened for me. My original plan was to have the cookery school in the house but then we started looking at the barn. It’s where my mum used to store her hundreds of bottles of Flash cleaner. Goodness knows where it is now.

‘The cookery school is all about learning how to cook but also learning how to enjoy it. I want other groups to use it too, organisations like the Clandestine Cake Club and other local groups. I knew it would be popular because there isn’t really anything like this but I didn’t imagine just how busy we would be.’

Next month he will also release his third cookery book, Perfect Plates in Five Ingredients, which focuses on pared back cooking using easier to follow methods. In April, he will also be on a new television programme, The Chopping Block, with Rosemary Shrager.

‘For me, food has gotten a bit complicated over the past few years. You don’t have to have a big list of ingredients to create delicious, fulfilling plates of food.

‘This book is about allowing the ingredients speak for themselves. It doesn’t take trickery or molecular gastronomy to prepare good food.

‘I’m really excited about the book. But also about moving back. I’ve really missed Lancashire and I’m looking forward to getting back here.’



Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Fri, 09:41

Take a break from your spending spree with this selection of afternoon teas located around the main shopping areas of King Street and Exchange Square in the centre of Manchester.

Read more
Afternoon Tea Manchester
Tue, 09:21

Our new columnist, Debby Donnelly-Addison is determined to fly the flag for produce from the county, as Emma Mayoh discovered

Read more
Tue, 09:19

Making the most of the last of the winter pears, this lightly spiced cake combines the gentle heat of ginger with the sharp sweetness of cream cheese.

Read more

Two mavericks of the food and drink world collided with beautiful results at The Art School, Liverpool, writes Rebekka O’grady.

Read more
Mon, 16:43

The Boho Baker shares her hearty dish that’s full of Lancashire goodness

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Just back from the jungle, Jennie McAlpine on missing her family and serving tea fit for a queen. Mairead Mahon reports

Read more
Afternoon Tea Manchester
Friday, December 29, 2017

Gin tasting is increasing in popularity across the country, we round up some of the best events across Lancashire. Some of these events sell out fairly quickly, but the organisers do often host multiple events throughout the year.

Read more
Friday, December 29, 2017

Our guide to some of the best food and drink events in the county throughout 2018

Read more
Things to do in Lancashire Lancashire Food
Friday, December 29, 2017

John Loftus used to be tee-total. Now the farmer is making top quality gin with his son in law from his historic farm in Weeton. And it has exploded onto the market. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The latest Lancashire Life luncheon was staged in the magnificent setting of Samlesbury Hall.

Read more
Lancashire Life Luncheon
Friday, December 15, 2017

Lancashire cheese is perfect all year round but with so many brilliant makers which do you choose? Here is our guide to a few favourites

Read more
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

We’ve compiled a guide of top tips from culinary experts to help you with your festive feast.

Read more
Monday, December 11, 2017

Chefs, restaurateurs and food producers were honoured at this year’s prestigious Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards. Emma Mayoh reports.

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search