‘Delia of the Dales’ finds recipe for success in locked-down Hawes

Elizabeth Fawcett is running cookery classes online, from Hawes. Picture by Simon HulmeElizabeth Fawcett is running cookery classes online, from Hawes. Picture by Simon Hulme
Elizabeth Fawcett is running cookery classes online, from Hawes. Picture by Simon Hulme | JPI Media
Like the best small-screen dramas, it has been a triumph of hope over adversity. Unlike most of them, it has a cast of only one.

But in the small North Yorkshire town of Hawes, Elizabeth Fawcett’s cookery classes may yet make her famous.

Starved of customers, her newly-commissioned training kitchen had been in danger of closing before it had properly opened.

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But when it became clear that her potential customers would remain chained to their own stoves for the time being, she decided that if she could not teach them six at a time, she would teach as many as possible.

Elizabeth Fawcett sunk her savings into a new training kitchenElizabeth Fawcett sunk her savings into a new training kitchen
Elizabeth Fawcett sunk her savings into a new training kitchen

With a video camera and an internet connection, she has turned her facility into a TV studio and made herself the de facto Delia of the Dales.

She stands three times a week, in floral apron and in front of the window blinds that shade the view of the Market Square, dispensing mealtime menus to a Wensleydale audience hungry for something to do with their time, and to anyone from further afield who cares to tune in. Some 5,000 have done so far, and one has sponsored her.

“I decided to take the bull by the horns,” said Ms Fawcett, a self-taught cook who baked her first scones in 1998.

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“I was stopped in town this morning by a dad whose boys had made the supper last night and he said they were so excited to have worked out with Joe Wicks on YouTube in the morning and then made their family tea with me.”

She had sunk her savings into her new kitchen, whose three sets of worktops and ovens accommodate six students working in pairs.

But the first lessons in late February had to be postponed when the area was covered by snow.

“We were just starting to get going when all this happened and everything ground to a halt,” she said.

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She has been told she will not even qualify for business rate relief because her premises are too new to have been assessed.

“But I realised I couldn’t sit around crying – I was going to have to get on with something,” she said.

“I thought I’d do some cookery classes online, just to keep my name out there, keep people interacting and give the children something to do.

“I love teaching people – I love talking to people about cookery. This seemed to make sense.”

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Using Facebook as her TV channel, she cooks almost in real-time, Delia Smith style, with a “teaser” advertising the day’s menu.

“At five o’clock, we’re going to make chicken with smoked bacon, and mushrooms with noodles, and you’ll be sitting down to eat it at six,” ran one menu.

For each meal, she uses ingredients available in the local shops, including Wensleydale cheese from the nearby creamery.

“The dairy messaged me and said they loved what I was doing and asked if I’d do a couple of recipes using their cheese – which of course I do anyway,” said Ms Fawcett, who until recently ran a shop and a meal delivery service from Askrigg. She has revived the deliveries from her new premises, which she calls the Humble Pie Cookery Kitchen.

Her programmes are broadcast, usually on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at facebook.com/humblepiehawes, where previous editions are also viewable.