The Larder

 - Changing lives through food

Article published in Konect November 2016

In a gleaming new teaching kitchen in Bellsquarry, Livingston, a team of professional chefs and volunteers are transforming lives of people in West Lothian via food and cooking.

Set up in 2010 out of one woman’s vision to provide opportunities for young people via food and cooking (à la Jamie Oliver?), local charity The Larder now provides bespoke cookery courses for children and adults and a host of other food-focussed services. I visited their premises in Brucefield Industrial Estate last month and, over a capuccino from their new barista machine, learned about latest developments at The Larder and how they are rolling out a range of exciting services to individuals and businesses in order be self-sustaining.

The Larder was set up as a social enterprise as the public purse is shrinking. Their key challenge, as with others in the Third Sector, is to deliver high quality services whilst moving towards self-sufficiency. To enable The Larder to do this they are seeking the support of local businesses to get on board and use their fantastic bespoke facility for staff reward, meetings, team development and staff nights out.

Team building events

With shows like Masterchef and Bake-off so hugely popular, an off-site day in a teaching kitchen with a professional chef is a great idea for a team-building event. The chef will step delegates (space for up to ten) through a dish from beginning to end, with packages tailored to your own requirements. Ample parking space, a separate meeting room as well as cafe seating area on site. At the end of the day, delegates sit down together to enjoy the food they have created!

An alternative works night out

For up to ten team members, pay approximately the same as you might for a meal out with entertainment for your team, but it’s a night out with a difference as members are stepped through creating the meal by a professional chef. You still get to eat at the end of it, when the chef becomes your waiter, the music comes on and you’re served your meal with a complimentary glass of wine! Cooking and eating together - a fantastic social experience.

Kids parties

Besides children’s regular cookery courses, The Larder runs parties where the children prepare food from scratch under professional instruction! There is always plenty left over to put in the party bags and take away! For ten to twelve children it’s £180 for the 2.5 hour all-inclusive party.

Nights out

For a ladies nights out or even hen or stag do, The Larder’s professional kitchen is perfect. Learn to make a new dish, and at the end of it the instructing chef becomes your waiter, and serves your meals to enjoy together with a complimentary glass of wine! Curry and Ale nights are popular, where you learn to make a curry from scratch, and local Livingston micro-brewery Alchemy attend to provide complimentary ales with ale-tasting and food matching notes.

After-school cooking club

The latest Kids in the Kitchen course runs run every Wednesday from 4.30-6pm. Children will learn the basics of cooking and baking.

No matter what age or where you are in West Lothian if you want to cook we can help you”

All money raised from the corporate and party events goes back into funding The Larder’s primary raison d’etre – changing lives through food. High school students who are struggling with main stream school attend The Larder part time working towards SQA Hospitality qualifications. One of their students, Sam Rafferty, now works for local catering company Food Creations who run several cafes in West Lothian. Sam told me, “The Larder helped me discover an interest in cooking that I didn’t know I had, and was instrumental in setting me on my career in hospitality.” Training officer Paul Holborn says, “The Larder has had great success in supporting young people into college or work in the hospitality sector. We do this by working with them in an informal learning environment that enables each person to grow their confidence and skills at their pace and based on their needs.’ A pop up cafe once a month gives them experience in front of house, waiting at tables and working the till.

West Lothian Council have funded free cookery classes for the over 50’s, to reduce isolation and support independent living. “Cooking for one can be a challenge, so that’s one of the things the over 50 sclasses focus on,” explains chef Tracy. “We’re also keen to encourage older men to cook, so have an 8 week course for men only early next year. It will include budgeting, basic cookery skills, cooking for 1, cooking with a slow cooker, smaller portions and eating for health. Each week you will cook a range of courses then sit down and eat your freshly made meal with the rest of the group.” Dinner Clubs are also available until March 2017. These are one-off events where each person cooks their own meal and then everyone sits down to eat together. It is a social gathering as well as a learning activity.

Gift vouchers available for any cookery courses or parties

For more information on any activities or to book parties, corporate events or to access charitable services, contact The Larder on 01506 412819 or visit


Unit 6 B2 Brewster Square, Brucefield Industrial Estate, Livingston. EH54 9BJ

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