Epicurean education at Peter’s Gala academy

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A professional chef has unveiled plans to launch a gourmet cookery school in Galashiels.

The last piece of the jigsaw of Peter Gruber’s dream is due to be slotted into place tomorrow (Friday) when his new venture – the Maplehurst Cooking Academy & Fine Dining Club Ltd – bids for a drinks permit from Scottish Borders Licensing Board.

Incorporated as a limited company earlier this year, the business will be based at Maplehurst, the handsome Edwardian property in Abbotsford Road which Mr Gruber and his wife Silke purchased last year.

The couple are looking to build on the reputation they have already forged at the boutique guest house – evidenced by a wealth of glowing Trip Advisor testimontials.

Built in 1906 for a local mill-owner, Maplehurst boasts many of its original internal features – including tapestries, oak paneling and a stained glass window – all considered fine examples of the Scottish Arts and Crafts style.

“As the new owners, we are bringing our own unique foodie twist, thanks to Peter’s love of cooking and fine dining,” proclaims the Maplehurst website.

To accommodate the academy, their special fine dining evenings and their ambition to hold private functions, Mr and Mrs Gruber have applied for a licence to sell alcohol on the premises from 11am till midnight on weekdays and till 1am on Friday and Saturday.

Their operating plan includes a large area of the adjacent garden grounds, suitable for the erection of a marquee, for “external alcohol consumption”.

And although this has elicited no neighbour objections, both the police and licensing standards officer Ian Tunnah have expressed reservations about this aspect of the application.

“Given the proposed hours for consumption on the premises and the proximity of neighbouring properties, we request that the outside area could be best managed by the use of occasional licences,” states a letter from the police.

Mr Tunnah writes: “It would appear the larger lawn area is intended to accommodate such events as weddings. I have serious concerns that a marquee, with live or recorded music, could give cause for complaint from residents in neighbouring properties.”

In their application, Mr and Mrs Gruber have given an assurance that the sale of alcohol will be restricted to Maplehurst residents, those attending the academy and guests at pre-arranged functions.