Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Woking: an emerging centre of culinary excellence!

This is a two-part tale of the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking and new artisan food start up eINDIE which held its product launch there in March 2016, says Shirlee Posner of Eat Surrey.
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For the well-heeled young in post war Britain who weren’t suited to academic life, it was often a choice (for young ladies in particular) of learning secretarial or cooking skills. On the cooking front, selection usually came down to two venues: the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London or the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking.

Nowadays Leith’s and other colleges have joined the party and there’s a wealth of courses to choose from. Recently, Tante Marie in Woking’s move to a new purpose built venue has meant it’s topping the leader board again. The academy (the first of its kind in the UK) is famous for professional chef courses and celebrity graduates. Being part of the local community is also high on the agenda, and with a new restaurant and a plethora of short courses, the academy is gaining a loyal following.

Tante Marie has changed ownership three times since opening in 1954. Today, former chef and deputy principal Andrew Maxwell owns the academy. With a new lease of life and investment, Tante Marie moved from an old red brick Victorian building to a new purpose built site in central Woking in 2015. In addition to the culinary academy, there is also a modern European restaurant staffed by graduates of the Cordon Bleu Diploma where they work for one year to gain a Level 5 Diploma in Culinary and Hospitality Management. I have dined there twice and been impressed by the delightful service, innovative and professionally dispatched menu. The attention to detail in the food and service is faultless as overseen by tutor manager Marco Di Michele.

The restaurant’s food is fresh, seasonal and skilfully prepared and presented. To give staff the full range of food service skills, amuse-bouche accompanies menu selections, as does handmade bread. Appetising nibbles on offer include smoked mackerel paté on Melba toast or shot glasses of leek and potato soup with truffle oil.
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Starters on the seasonal menu may include scallops and black pudding or crab rarebit. For mains, steak with creamy mash and pan-fried sea bass. The fish was served on a bed of pearl barley risotto, intensely green from the addition of baby spinach, to contrast in taste and texture with spicy chorizo. Desserts included pear and frangipane tart with clotted cream and a rhubarb fool with handmade biscuits.

The food is so good here it’s hard to believe the staff are all new graduates. Well run and managed, the space is modern, clean and comfortable. Wine is reasonably priced and offered by the glass or bottle, and it was good to see local gin Silent Pool available here too.

Located centrally in Woking, Tante Marie and other newcomers have really started to put Woking on the map as a foodie destination. Incentives from the council have been successful, which has also helped street traders from the old market move to permanent homes, such as Araceli’s, maker of fantastic burritos. Cellar Magneval, a wine bar, has also benefitted and has just opened its third venue in Ripley.

I recently returned to Tante Marie for the launch of a new artisan food start up. Sonal Sher, a local resident, had signed up to a local business initiative. After some re-evaluation and encouragement from friends the result is new brand eINDIE, a small selection of spiced fusion chutneys. Whilst walking past Tante Marie on the way to a meeting, she fell in love with the space and popped in to see if it was possible to hold a launch event there. Manager Marco spoke to his team and decided it was a perfect fit for their desire to be more ‘community-centric’ and they also came up with a range of canapés showcasing Sonal’s chutneys.
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These recipes were kindly shared by the Tante Marie graduates who worked on the launch event for eINDIE Chutneys and Relish.

Brie and mellow mango chutney filo parcels


(makes 24 mini parcels)
• 200g pack filo pastry
• 200g Brie, diced to small cubes
• 100g eINDIE mango chutney
• 30g melted butter


• Cut the filo pastry into 72 equal sized squares
• Place the Brie and mango chutney in a bowl and mix well.
• For each parcel, take three squares of filo and arrange on top of each other at an angle to form a star. Place one teaspoon of the cheese and mango chutney mix in the centre of the star. Draw the edges of the filo pastry up to form a parcel. Brush with melted butter.
• Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees centigrade/gas 5 for six to ten minutes until crisp and golden.
• Arrange on a platter and garnish with amaranth or any other decorative leaves.
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These recipes were kindly shared by the Tante Marie graduates who worked on the launch event for eINDIE Chutneys and Relish.

Hot chilli relish chicken skewers


(makes 24 skewers)
• 24 mini chicken fillets
• 1 jar of eINDIE hot chilli relish
• 24 skewers
• Four dessertspoons vegetable oil
• Salt and pepper to taste


• Marinade the fillets overnight in the chilli relish.
• Thread the chicken onto the skewers.
• Drizzle a little oil over the skewers then place on a griddle* and cook until juices run clear. Don’t turn too often allowing for chargrilled lines.
• Serve straight away.
* If griddle pan is not available, the skewers can be cooked under a hot grill and in the summer on a BBQ.
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Originally from Pakistan, Sonal has a rich heritage of cooking with spices and unusual ingredients. With just four tried and tested products to launch, Sonal says once established she has many more combinations up her sleeve. For her core range, she has taken pointers from established favourites and added her own special twist. For example, the sweet red onion marmalade has an unusual addition of nutmeg, and her mellow mango is fragrant from the addition of cardamom with a kick of chilli.

The food at the launch event really helped illustrate the versatility of Sonal’s new product range. It was also a great opportunity for Tante Marie students to develop a range of canapés to their own recipes.

Tante Marie is keen to work with other local artisan food producers as it adds a new dimension for students to develop skills. The local press, food writers and the Mayor of Woking, Derek McCrum, also attended giving a real sense of community. In addition, Sonal’s friend, Lord Dolar Popat, opened the event, introducing her as a ‘mumpreneur’ for developing her business alongside a part time job and being a single parent to two young children.

With a food festival each year and a host of new food outlets opening, Woking is definitely worth a visit. I’m going back to Tante Marie for a food photography course and highly recommend a visit to the restaurant. Short courses are a great idea for gifts or for anyone who wants to further develop kitchen skills. Look out for eINDIE products currently on sale in Cellar Magneval’s delicatessen in Ripley.

Shirlee Posner
essence info
Tante Marie Culinary Academy, 57–61 Commercial Way, Woking GU21 6HN
Telephone: 01483 726957
Websites: and

eINDIE Chutneys and Relish

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