Papadeli: Cookery School, Bakery, Delicatessen, Cafe and Private Catering Kitchen

Simon MacDonnell, the chef patron of Papadeli delicatessen and Café, has been at the helm of this thriving Clifton institution for over nine years. After many months of building work his dream and endeavours have finally come to fruition, as the top floor of 84 Alma Road, Bristol is now a beautiful, spacious and light cookery school and bakery, which is going to open its doors to its very first students on 7thMay 2011.

The business progression into teaching has come naturally. Simon was a teacher for many years before becoming a chef 15 years ago when he trained at Leith’s School of Food and Drink. He has also taught at the Bordeaux Quays and Quartier Vert cookery schools, as well as running his own successful catering business on the first floor of the building, producing private party canapés, buffets, business lunches, conference catering, hamper deliveries and cheese and wine events.

On the ground floor of the building is the heart of the Papadeli kingdom: a thriving delicatessen with tall ceilings and shelving as high as the eye can behold, filled with all the most delicious larder ingredients that even the most discerning foodie could require. The look and feel of a Mediterranean food hall comes to mind: brightly coloured bowls filled with olives, jars of preserved peppers and tomatoes, fresh homemade breads, continental cheeses and charcuterie, Spanish wines, Italian liqueurs, Moroccan spices. It’s all here, an A-Z de re coquinaria, a gourmet’s Aladdin’s cave.

Up one flight of steps and you are into a very bright café, with old school chairs, scrubbed wooden tables and an open-plan-hatch designed kitchen so that you can see the cooks preparing your food. There are magazines, papers, cookery books and plenty of light. You can eat lunch here, have breakfast, meet a business colleague or bring the children for tea in the holidays.

Up one more flight and Simon and his wife Catrin have built into the attic space, the smell of paint still lingering in the air. A huge cavernous room is now ready to be equipped and accessorised, ready for the first cookery students, chrome racks awaiting the first delivery of equipment and ingredients. There is even a long balcony on which the school will grow its own herb garden.

In one section of the room there will be a bakery producing fresh breads, cakes, pastries and biscuits. Papadeli will be running a café as a concession within the Royal West of England Academy (RWA at across the road, starting from the middle of April and the staff are already in place to start.

In the rest of the room there stands a big working and demonstration table as well as a dining table, and a fully functioning catering kitchen from where the chefs will teach. Courses will be partly hands-on and partly demonstration led, running on Wednesday evenings (6-9 p.m.) and starting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, followed by lunch with wine. There will be a holiday club series of cookery courses for children, run by Louise Bernard, who will run all the children’s classes and Jenny Chandler, author of “The Food of Northern Spain” and “The Real Taste of Spain” and well known cookery teacher and private chef, will also be teaching here.

Simon is very confident and passionate about his new venture: the location and facilities that are on offer here are unique and there are so many excellent professional teachers in and around Bristol, across all the genres of cookery, that he is keen to create a centre of excellence, learning and discovery for all people, of all cookery abilities, to share.

Bristol has earned its reputation as one of the most foodie hubs in Britain, and now it has a new jewel in its gastronomic crown. Simon’s work ethic really knows no bounds, and although the deli and café are already well known and prized amongst residents, its new cookery school and bakery will set a new bar for others to follow.  Like the fresh paint, the sense of expectation is all around.

Papadeli contact information

84 Alma Road


Bristol BS8 2DJ

Telephone: 0117 973 6569

E-mail: [email protected]

Website and cookery course details:

You can follow Simon and Catrin MacDonnell on Twitter @papadeli

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