About Us

Orchards Cookery is run by Isabel Burt (née Bomford), her husband Nicholas, and sister Lucy Richardson (née Bomford).  The Bomford sisters opened the school in 2003 and were joined by Nicholas in 2008 when he married Isabel.
Isabel is at the helm and keeps the show on the road, running the business, organising courses, logistics and taking bookings.  She has done a number of ski seasons and has experience of both Chalet Cook and Chalet Manager roles and spent a year working in Paris restaurants.

Before embarking on her ski-chalet work she completed an intensive course in Professional Cooking and gained National Vocational Qualification’s in Catering and Hospitality, Food Preparation and Cooking.
Lucy, whose idea it was to set up the cookery school, is in charge of the teaching and training.  She trains the cookery tutors, maintaining standards throughout the school, as well as teaching when her young family permits!  She has also done many ski seasons as a Chalet Cook and Chalet Manager.

Her keen interest in cooking led to three further years in Paris working for The Costes Group (she worked in two of its most prestigious restaurants, Chez Georges and Café de L’Esplanade) where she received her chef's training, both from the in-house chefs and those who were flown into Paris from around the world to exchange ideas and introduce new recipes.  During this time she learned a wealth of useful cooking skills, tips and short cuts, which are passed on to students at Orchards Cookery.

Nicholas assists Isabel with the running of the business and looks after recruitment, helping Orchards students to find cooking jobs.  He has transformed the kitchen garden growing lots of the fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the cookery school and his passion for collecting and eating wild mushrooms keeps the school fully stocked with an interesting variety of mushrooms (he used to supply wild mushrooms to gourmet restaurants in Dorset and London).

He is a chartered surveyor and was a Land Agent before marrying Isabel, having previously worked in London in Marketing, PR and as a Recruitment Consultant.

The cookery school could not function without the dedication, hard work and support from the first class Tutors who work hard to ensure that the students get the most out of their time at The Orchards.  All the Tutors have been trained to teach The Orchards Cookery method to Lucy's exacting standards, but all bring their own individual strengths, wealth of cooking knowledge and ski season experience to the courses, to the huge benefit of our students.  Between them the Tutors and staff have over 35 ski seasons under their belts, so there are not many questions relating to chalet management that the team cannot answer! 

There are also a number of Cookery Assistants who help the Tutors in the kitchens and also look after the students during their stay at The Orchards.

A team of twenty-six staff work at the school when forty-eight students are being trained.

The school was opened in 2003, in a purpose built kitchen set in the Eighteenth Century butler’s pantry and domestic kitchen in Isabel’s and Lucy’s family home.  The kitchen was originally designed for six students but as the courses became quickly oversubscribed, an extra work station was added in 2005 so eight students could attend each course. 

The following year in 2006, two additional kitchens were built in beautifully converted Bidford-on-Avon stone stables, so twenty-four students could be trained at the school.

In 2015 (after many years of working with planners and builders!) the farm courtyard was developed expanding the school further so forty-eight students could be trained in six separate kitchens.  The addition of Hoppers Bar (including a dancefloor!) has been enormous fun for both staff and students so any additional calories consumed during the day can be shaken off on the dancefloor!  

In the early days, students lived with the family in the farm house, but as the school grew two attached coach houses were renovated, a third barn converted, then en-suite accommodation was added above the new kitchens to accommodate the students and some of the staff who work at The Orchards.

The Orchards is a Georgian style family farm house situated on a farm in the heart of England, in Shakespeare country, eight miles west of Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The school is in a perfect location for beautiful country walks and for enjoying local attractions such as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Warwick Castle, Cheltenham Spa, the Cotswolds, various Natural Trust properties, Ragley Hall and Sudeley Castle are among the favourites.

Skiing and the love of mountain life have been in the family for a while! The photograph on the left is Isabel and Lucy’s Great Grandparents skiing in St Moritz in the 1920’s.