An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
5 Old Market Place
Email: [email protected]
State-of-the-art cookery school and artisan craft space offering high quality master classes, demonstrations and relaxed social sessions on a wide variety of design led crafts and English/International cuisine.
Where to find it
The Workhouse is located in the old market place of Harleston surrounded by beautiful countryside and an endless list of interesting places to visit, in easy reach of London, Cambridge, Suffolk and Norfolk. Formerly an old merchant’s house, the Grade II listed building has been stylishly renovated whilst in keeping with its age and character to produce an impressive presence in this typically quaint Norfolk town. One look through the warm glow of its Georgian windows will provoke immense curiosity; high end classy interior and the promise of cutting edge learning in a relaxed environment and social hub.
What is The Workhouse?
The owner of this intriguing vision is Andrew Pipe, formerly of the Waveney Valley. A hot shot city lawyer of twenty years then worldwide ski racer and teacher, this friendly and refreshingly modest man has travelled the globe sampling local cuisines and attending varied cultural cookery schools. With a love of fine food and an interest in arts and crafts led by a strong design element, Andrew has always had the vision of opening up a bespoke multi-purpose learning environment. A place where “everything I love in life can come together in a fun and practical way - all sorts of different people in all sorts of different ways”.
After nearly three years of hard work and determination, The Workhouse is a hugely versatile work space with a stylish and high tech kitchen that can be adapted and used in various ways to accommodate differing class objectives, as well as a wonderfully warm and inviting social space for intimate groups to embark on quality craft projects together.
What to expect
I was lucky enough to be shown around The Workhouse which is also Andrew’s home (a striking revamp that’s littered with stylish pieces from around the world mixed with traditional wooden flooring and sash windows, as well as an unusual cellar that is shaping up to be an inviting spa area for future well-being sessions and overnight stays). The kitchen - with its ultra modern ovens hidden behind clever cabinetry, high islands and versatile table tops that can be flipped up and down as required - has huge potential to meet the demands of all kinds of student groups.
I attended a hands-on cookery class and despite being hopeless when it comes to food, had a most enjoyable lesson and came away with a tasty Mexican tamale and guacamole that my partner thoroughly approved of. I felt proud of myself and wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest as Andrew is such a down-to-earth guy despite being a hugely knowledgeable professional. I had a fun and informative session in a relaxed and warm environment and am eager to experience more.
The craft lounge is so inviting and geared to both lessons and club meet ups with like minded arty souls, and there’s even a pop up shop cart for selling quality products to the public. Andrew is keen to give back to the community in this way and also intends to house resident graduate artists.
One of the things I love the most about The Workhouse is its understated expertise – you actually feel one of them as Andrew and other top chefs and artists with individual trades guide you to achieve your own personal best. There’s no sense of superiority; anyone can bring an idea to the Workhouse for a potential group or learning experience. At the moment a molecular class is emerging from a desire to learn about the science of food.
What can you do here?
Sessions run on a hands-on or demonstration basis, as private parties or individual/group bookings. You can prepare a meal and invite your partner to dine with you or make a surprise and take home with you. All craft sessions involve taking away your own creations and all materials are included in the cost. Classes run for children too (accompanied by an adult) with some inspiring options such as Arm Knitting which looks fascinating. All courses are based on quality hobby skills and are guaranteed to be led by artists hugely experienced in their field.
Typical on-going classes include: Can’t Cook but Want To, Introduction to Fine Chocolate, Let’s Get Baking, Traditional British Breads, Handmade Books, Guerrilla Knitting and Different Stitches. Cookery classes range from £40-£75 for a full day with options of three day courses also available. Art & Craft courses range from £25-£65 for a full day. Gift vouchers are available and all ideas for private workshops, parties and classes considered. A sample of what is available each month can be found on our What’s On pages and also on The Workhouse website direct.