'I can’t think of any other food that turns us all more kitten-in-a-basket gooey than a fish-cake. We’re wooed by its golden crust, delighted that its about mash, and reassured by its round cake-like shape – but by the end of the weekend we aim to have you loving real and truly fresh seafood, and in all its magnificent forms, head, tail, fins, claws and all.'
Begin to cook, improve your fish cookery or simply watch, do nothing and eat. A G Hendy & Co offer exclusive and private residential weekend seafood cookery courses and one day workshops by the sea in Hastings Old Town. With just a three-minute walk to Hastings’ fishing fleet, the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in the UK, with its handsome old net huts and a daily catch, you have the gift of the sea on your doorstep. The intimate course is run by celebrated chef Alastair Hendy, and offers simple, hands-on lessons on how to prepare, cook and really enjoy seafood – both inside on the stove and down on the beach with just a grill rack, pot and kettle. Honest food, easy to make, and excellent to eat. Far away from the bustle of your busy life, we offer arresting escape in a truly unique kitchen, home and setting. With Alastair at the helm, you are in for a very delicious and highly visual treat.
‘Fish needs the simplest of treatment and the speediest of cooking. It’s true fast food. From pan-searing fillets, to steaming, frying and grilling whole fish, then baking fish in a classic fish pie, you’ll experience all ways on the cooking front. Another way is roasting: nothing could be more effortless. You only have to rub your fish inside and out with very few things - salt, pepper, some herbs and olive oil - and set him proudly on a roasting tray, stuff more herbs in his belly, and give him moments in your fiercest oven to make supper. Any fish will do. Then it’s just a squirt with the lemon, and time to devour – with a little quick something-gorgeous on the side. Ahhh, then there’s fish-cakes. I can’t think of any other food that turns us all more kitten-in-a-basket gooey than a fish-cake. We’re wooed by its golden crust, delighted that its about mash, and reassured by its round cake-like shape – in effect, made completely comfy by the fact it bears no relation to a fish. Even something out of a chip shop – a fish-cake in name only – we’ll eat with the same gusto. Nothing wrong in that, but by the end of the weekend we aim to have you loving real and truly fresh seafood, and in all its magnificent forms, head, tail, fins, claws and all’ says Alastair.
What will I learn?
Our courses and workshops are all about enjoying yourselves and enjoying fish. Not fixating too much on technique and expertise, but appreciating the whole creative process, as much as the eating; a getting to grips with the basics, the simple rules to cooking all seafood without the need of fancy cookware, and achieving effortless, delicious results. Alastair’s food is relaxed, informal and lively, and you’ll soon pick up many tips and easy ways with seafood to impress your friends, such as his glorious family-sized shellfish pot, cuttlefish & black cabbage or extra-deep crab tart - to be devoured while still warm from the oven. Some simple ways with vegetables and fresh fruit puddings will be sneaked in too.
What’s the local seafood?
First off, we will head for The Stade, to visit the beach-launched fishing fleet, with its winch sheds and net huts, and to select and buy our fish. The winch sheds on the beach are our first port-of-call. In the fishy scheme of things, there’s nothing more English than flatfish, and Hastings’ locally caught flat fish (much of which is MSC certified) – such as plaice, lemon and Dover sole, turbot and brill - are often to be found here. And, as the summer moves in and the sea warms, cuttlefish, mackerel, sea bass and spider crab become plenty.
Next, a visit to Rock-a-Nore Fisheries, the best wet fish shop in town, where wonderful crustaceae - crab, lobster, squid, Rye Bay scallops and brown shrimps, not forgetting the dear old whelk - are stacked up in crates. ‘Our grandma Polly Gannon used to push a fish cart seven miles from Hastings to Bexhill and back again every day before our parents Albert and Lilly set up Rock-a-Nore Fisheries some 30 years ago,’ says owner Sonny Gannon, whose family have been in the business for two centuries. He also does a good line in hot and cold smoked fish: bloaters, buckling, kippers, eel, mackerel, haddock (tip-top for a chowder).
Once we have our fish, it’s back to Home Store’s Kitchen for fun and creativity. After a slice of freshly-baked fruit tart and a coffee, the cooking begins. A fish filleting lesson, and then preparation and cooking with Alastair Hendy will take up the rest of the day, resulting in a glorious seafood lunch, prepared by us all – with wine, and a pud to finish.
What else happens on the weekend course?
Afternoons will continue in the same vein, and on Saturday we’ll prepare the ingredients and dishes for supper at our magical Tudor house, with a break at around 4.30pm for afternoon tea, before the run-up to putting dinner on the table. After a rest, a walk around the Old Town and its junk shops, or a stroll on the beach, we resume in the kitchen – outdoors or in, weather dependant - and Alastair will hold a shellfish workshop. Supper will be held in the dining room cellar of the Tudor house or, if the weather is clement, under the stars amongst the jungle-like foliage of the garden.
Alastair will be on tap both Saturday and Sunday to answer all questions, show and steer, and will also share lunch with you. On Sunday, during the summer months, and with everyone in agreement, we can head for the beach and cook our prepared fish lunch over a fire.
Weekend courses are held between two unique and special locations: A G Hendy & Co Home Store’s kitchen at 36 High Street, our Georgian shop and restaurant set over three floors; and at our Tudor house at 135 All Saints Street.It’s an easy three-minute walk between the two. One-day workshops are held Home Store’s kitchen only. All ingredients are included.
How do I book?
Please see our Booking page
Please see our Contact us page
Please read our Terms & Conditions.
What should I bring?
We supply everything you will need for cooking, but please do bring your favourite knife if you have one. Bring walking boots or sturdy shoes for the beach, a camera is strongly recommended, and your swim gear in summer.
Some more questions answered
All recipes will be provided for you to take home
Nearby on-street parking is available
Gift vouchers available
If you have any allergies please let us know at the time of booking
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
One-day Fish Cookery Workshop
The workshop starts at 9am at A G Hendy & Co Home Store and finishes at 4.30pm.
Two-day Fish Cookery Weekend
The course starts Saturday 10am at A G Hendy & Co Home Store and finishes on Sunday at 4pm.
Location & contact details
The fish cookery school shares two locations in the heart of Hastings Old Town.
A G Hendy & Co Home Store
36 High Street
Hastings Old Town
Tel +44 (0)1424 447171
135 All Saints Street
Hastings Old Town
Tel +44 (0)7930 406418
Part of the attraction of the weekend course is the unique experience of staying nearby in our Tudor house at 135 All Saints Street. A home that is simply furnished, candle-lit, with log fires. The recent restoration of the house has allowed it to breathe and, without the fakery that would be involved in re-creating a Tudor interior, the rooms have been humbly furnished to reflect the character of the house, to produce a fresh, magical environment quite unlike conventional ‘restored’ interiors. This does also mean that noises travel, floors slope, eaves are low, and stairs are steeper than normal.
The house sleeps four people between two rooms: one double and one twin. These rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis, are
at additional cost to the course fee, and require a booking of a two-night stay. Alternative accommodation can be arranged at various nearby
quality B&Bs which we can recommend.
Please do contact us for the house stay rates or if you need more clarification.
If staying at the Tudor house on the Friday night, aim to arrive at the house any time you wish after 5pm, but no later than 11pm please. Please call us on +44 (0)1424 447171 / +44 (0) 7930 406418 so that we can let you in. If you are staying in other accommodation and prefer to arrive first thing Saturday morning, then please do. Either way, please let us know which day you will arrive and an approximate time of arrival.
Hastings is steeped in history. With its eclectic mix of antique and junk shops, art galleries, second-hand bookshops and wealth of Tudor and Georgian architecture, it is the perfect place for a holiday by the sea. Take the funicular railway to the top of the East Hill and take in the sea views, the fisherman’s beach and its unique net huts. Visit the Fisherman’s Museum, the Jerwood art gallery, smugglers’ caves and the ruins of William the Conqueror’s medieval castle. You can visit St Leonards-on-Sea, with its 19th century architecture is a half-mile walk away along the promenade; and Battle, which is a 15-minute car ride inland, where you can explore the ruined Abbey and the 1066 Battle Of Hastings battlefield.