Alison Henderson completed the the Ballymaloe Cookery School 12 Week Certificate Course in 1999. She stayed on as Chef and Manager of the Ballymaloe Shop Cafe for 13 years, putting into practice the ethos fostered by the Cookery School and all at Ballymaloe, the importance of quality, local, seasonal ingredients, prepared and cooked with respect and skill. In 2012 she moved to Scotland to be closer to family and for new work challenges, initially working with Heritage Portfolio, one of the leading Events and Catering Companies in Scotland. As a chef in their various Art Galleries and Stately home cafes, Alison enjoyed the buzz of events catering for weddings in the likes of the Signet Library, Mansfieild Traquair, Royal College of Sugeons etc.
Alison was then approached by the Secret Herb Garden to manage their cafe in a glasshouse on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and worked to set up their kitchen and their very successful 'Full Moon Dinners'. The desire to share her knowledge, experience and enthusiasm with others prompted me to led her to Colstoun Estate and the position of Cookery School Manager there. Based in deepest, rural East Lothian on a 2000 acre estate in a series of farm cottages, the ethos and dynamic of the School has much in common with the early days of Ballymaloe Cookery School. Just as Ballymaloe is situated in lush, rural East Cork with a great food pedigree, Colstoun lies in East Lothian, known as the Breadbasket of Scotland, so rich is the agriculture and resources of the area.
"At Colstoun we work with local producers and seek to encourage people to use these amazing ingredients with confidence (that's were the cooking teaching bit comes in) to make Simple, Seasonal Food which is Stunning to look at and eat, using Local ingredients as part of a Sustainable Food culture. We run 1 day courses and work with a good number of the local Secondary Schools too providing teaching right across the age spectrum, in a country which has a severe shortage of Home Economics teachers. So any 3 month students with a yearning to share their skills and experience, Scotland holds many opportunities! It's pretty hectic at times, with lots of challenges and great opportunities for me to develop and constantly learn too so darn good job satisfaction! "