Posted: 10/08/2018

“Shouldn’t more UK retailers follow the Mimo model and bolt on a cookery school?”

View from HQ
John Farrand, managing director

Spoiler alert: I talk about my personal life and holiday shenanigans in this column. That’s unlike me.

Now I know a thing or two about most food. Cheese, tea, coffee and herbal infusions are my stronger suits. But here it is: I’m no cook. Handy on a BBQ, yes and my seafood pasta works well enough with a quantity of rosé to back it up, but I understand food and drink without necessarily being able to assemble them. 

So it was no busman’s holiday to invest in a course at the Mimo Algarve cookery school and deli, hosted by Matheus (attractive Brazilian chef and tutor), in the company of our extended family, including five children aged 6 to 18.

There was some concern about the appeal of our culinary treat to the youngest, as local Portuguese dishes were prepared in cataplana (traditional copper pans) and the wine flight began. 

No priggish British rules about children in restaurants here. Within minutes there was a Mini Mimo chef’s hat on Alice, and she was on the pass. Genius. A six-year-old engaged for the entire two-and-a-half hours, with not a handheld device or screen in sight. 

That left the grown-ups and teenagers mulling local produce, a little food politics (especially about the fish), how to use the less popular cuts of meat (a sublime pork shoulder) and why it’s okay to use xanthan gum to make ice cream (objections on a postcard please).

Shouldn’t more retailers in the UK follow the Mimo model and bolt on a cookery school?

What a wonderful addition to your destination shop, ticking many of the buzzword boxes – multi-generational, inclusive, sustainable, terroir – while stimulating discussion and engaging young chefs.

It could even help you sell more products from the shelves: “Replicate the recipe at home with a convenient box of products available to buy here…”

It was a happy last night to our holiday. The six-year-old arguably had the best time (although I thoroughly enjoyed the Dão with my pea, egg & salami soup) and as we left, Matheus asked Alice what she had learnt that evening.  The response: that cooking is “awesome”. That makes me happy.

To read more opinions from John  click here.

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