The Avenue Cookery School was started in 2004 by the brilliant Mary Forde. She couldn’t believe that her daughters friends couldn’t cook so she decided to set up 1 & 2 week cookery courses to teach them and their peers the kitchen know how. She beautifully renovated her garage in their large Putney family home in Chartfield Avenue, which is where the name ‘The Avenue’ came from. It ran there for 7 fun years and when they decided to sell their family home, The Avenue moved to a new location in Putney. Over these years Sophie, Richard and Diana’s 2 other kids (Emily and Oliver) helped out and earnt their allowance working in the kitchen washing up.
Over the course of the years a couple of other classes were added to the mix, namely the Tarte Tatin and Crème Brûlée 6-week evening classes.
In 2015, after a further 4 years and a few different locations in Putney, designing, building and dismanteling new kitchens, Mary retired and Diana took the business on with her son Richard.
Richard and Diana worked hard to keep the business going with the help of a friend of Diana’s who took the bookings of the courses. Diana and Richard were on the look out for a new property for the school and when Sophie finished her travelling at the end of 2015 she put herself forward for the job of helping to transform the business. So with a new dynamic, and eventually new location, the business began to grow.
Martin, Diana’s ex-husband and Sophie and Richard’s father is a builder by trade, and Richard was smart enough to absorb both parents talents and had started his career as a builder. So with the help of Martin and Oliver (Diana’s eldest son and Sophie and Richard’s brother) they designed and built the kitchen. It was a big task and they had to build it from just a shell in a couple months. It was full on!, and with a lot of 48 hour working stints trying to get everything done for the first day of the first course, when the 24 hour countdown came everyone was madly wiring, painting or cleaning through the night in order to have the place ready for 9am. Despite having to wash up in the bathroom sink 😅 due to no running water in the kitchen, we managed!
And so here we are today…mother, daughter, son and now, daughters husband, we have the fabulously fun, family-run Avenue Cookery School! With 75+ classes and courses, some well known company’s team building events, hundreds of hens, kids & birthday parties as well kitchen hire for all sorts under our belt we are a company with 10s of thousands of hours experience, love, sweat and tears to show for and we wouldn’t want it any other way!
As Richard says working with family is like peeling PVA glue off your hands – strangely satisfying!