Name: Jenny Thomson.

Age: You’re only as old as you feel, so 35.

What is your business called?

Courses For Cooks.

Where is it based?

Dunfermline, Fife.

What services does it offer?

Cookery courses on a wide range of subjects and I also create custom, team building and group classes to order.

I develop recipes for food producers who don’t have the time or skills to do their own.

I also deliver cookery demonstrations and provide restaurant and catering consultancy services.

I’m about to launch an online membership for people who can’t or don’t want to come to classes.

To whom does it sell?

For classes, anyone who would like to improve their cookery skills, lacks confidence in the kitchen, has never cooked or needs a bit of inspiration. Minimum age is 12 years.

Groups can be family or friends get-togethers, stag or hen parties. Team building days allow colleagues to come together outside of the work environment.

Sales have increased by 24 per cent over the last three years and are on track to increase again this year.

How many employees?

Just me!

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

I had a lightbulb moment in 2011, reading an article about a cookery school which was opening, run by the person who taught me. I had been wondering what to do for years after selling my restaurant business and having children. Nothing inspired me until I read the article. I realised it was something I could do from home, working it around children and school hours.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

My husband and I owned and ran The Butter Churn at Kelty for 15 years. We built the business up from a small, seasonal farm shop with seating for about 25 people, to a year-round destination business with 150 covers and a dedicated shop specializing in Scottish food and craft products. We sold the business in 2003 and I took time out to have children.

We had a large, empty walled garden that had been used as a paddock. While I was at home, I created a family garden with an apiary and grew my own fruit, vegetables and produced my own honey.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

The business is self-funded.

What was your biggest break?

Having a house with a suitable kitchen.

What was your worst moment?

Moving house and having to find another suitable kitchen!

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love teaching people cookery skills and inspiring them to try new things. Many of the people who come to my classes have little knowledge of cookery or confidence.

I also enjoy creative challenges, so recipes for development dishes for food producers or a menu for a custom course are always an exciting challenge.

Working with new people, discovering what they do and what they enjoy is interesting.

There are a lot of wide and varied skills required to run a business nowadays. I have learned many new skills other than cooking which I enjoy. These include web site, photography, video, social media and marketing skills.

What do you least enjoy?

Running a business is a way of life, not a job. Sometimes it’s difficult to switch off and nowadays you have to produce an endless stream of social media content, which can be exhausting.

What are your ambitions for the firm? 

This year I am focusing on putting all my knowledge online with the creation of an online membership, I would also like to increase custom and group classes.

What are your five top priorities? 

1) Happy customers.

2) To pass on my skills and dietary knowledge. Because of budget cuts and convenience food cookery skills and lots of knowledge have been lost. I have people coming to my classes in their 50s who have never cooked. For the health of the nation and survival of the NHS, we need to really take ownership of our health. What we put into our bodies affects our whole well-being.

3) Good, local ingredients. With the focus on climate change and global warming everything that can be done to reduce food miles, packaging and recycling etc, however small will help.

If you make your own food, you know what’s gone into it in terms of fat, sugar and salt. A big part of a healthy diet is using as much non processed food as possible. ‘Everything in moderation’ and ‘You are what you eat’ is so relevant.

4) Reducing food waste. Classes and recipes are structured to use as much of an ingredient as possible. There is minimal peeling of vegetables and any bones are made into stock.

5) Work/life balance. You only live once!

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

That’s a difficult one, there are so many areas within the food industry that they do help.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

If it’s not life threatening, don’t worry about it.

How do you relax?

My hobbies include coastal rowing, cycling, rock climbing and walking.