Students left high and dry as food school goes bust

THEY had been promised a glass of champagne on arrival and the undivided attention of a master chocolatier.

But instead, more than a dozen customers were left standing in a Stockbridge street after the company providing the chocolate cookery course they had paid for went bust.

Cookery school Cookingmania in Stockbridge, which provided cookery classes for adults and children, went into liquidation last week - but the 15 customers left outside the North West Circus Place building said they hadn't been informed.

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Cookingmania was set up by Ethel Blair, a chef by trade who is originally from Colombia in South America. She is an expert in "K9 cookery" - cooking healthy food for dogs - and featured in the Evening News in January after revealing that she prepares delicious doggie meals for her Miniature Schnauzer Pepsi.

Paul Motion, who lives in Southside, was one of the customers who turned up for the Cookingmania course.

He said: "There was a crowd of people who I initially thought were waiting at the bus stop, but it became clear quite quickly that they were all waiting to get in to do the course.

"Two people, a lady and a man, arrived and opened the door to the shop. We asked if we could come in, but they said no and that they had just come to remove their equipment.

"They told us they didn't know anything about the course and they had simply been told by the owner to take the equipment away. There were two ladies who had travelled from Aberdeen and stayed the night in a hotel, as well as a couple with a child in buggy."

Mr Motion said the business had been selling the chocolate cookery course through the Groupon voucher scheme in February. The customers who turned up on Sunday had paid through Groupon, making the price 39 each instead of the usual 100. Mr Motion has since contacted Groupon and was given a full refund.

Mr Motion, who received the chocolate cookery course as a birthday present from a family member, added: "I only booked this course on April 26. Ethel Blair must have had email addresses for all participants, as everyone had to choose the date that they wanted to do the course.

"Despite this, no prior notice of closure was given. It was the sheer rudeness of this, and the inconvenience, which upset most people rather than the money."

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However, Ms Blair, who is in her 40s and lives in Trinity, Edinburgh, insisted she had emailed all the customers who booked Sunday's course - more than 40 - to inform them that it had been cancelled because the business had folded.

She said the 15 people who still turned up for the course may not have picked up their email in time, possibly because some of the email addresses she was given were for people's workplaces.

The company was set up as Small Fry Ltd but traded as Cookingmania. It began trading in January 2008. Small Fry Ltd will be officially placed into liquidation at a meeting in Glasgow on Monday.