Blog: The National Harvest Service - A Chefs Perspective
Last month I took a group of students from Southfield School for Girls to Birmingham Cathedral to present a ‘food of Northampton’ harvest box to the Duchess of Cornwall at the National Harvest Service.
This was a fantastic opportunity for the students, and for me, too. As a Cucina Head Chef, I am far more than just a chef - my team and I are a key part of the school community. A lot of what I do is about getting the students to try and appreciate new foods as well as teaching them about good food and where it comes from.
The harvest box which we presented to the Duchess contained a wide variety of items which we either collected or made at the school. There were Northamptonshire oils and cheeses, breads made at school, homemade carrot cake, pear chutney, red onion marmalade, fiery tomato relish, rhubarb compote, homemade piccalilli, tomato and onion relish and a spiced apple and sultana compote. I was able to use fruit and vegetables either from local farm shops or the school's own garden.
When the Duchess inspected all of the boxes after the ceremony, it was a kind of symbolic moment, as we celebrated all the good food that we produce in the UK.
Before the service started, the students and I set out our food and they ended up asking me lots of questions about the food. This kind of discussion is where we do such important work, educating the students and really growing their love of food.
Even though I spend most of my day producing and selling the food, I never lose sight of the fact that I am also, in my own way, a teacher. I'm never going to be able to work miracles and get the students to like new things straightaway - these things all take time. But when it happens, it is so satisfying to know you are making a difference to their lives and their futures.
I'm grateful we got this opportunity, and hopefully there will be more before too long.
Written by Matt Kent, Head Chef at Southfield School.