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Chef's Experiences

Chef's Experiences

Adrian Hornsby, Ye Olde Plough House, Bulphan, Essex

For the second year running, we invited students aged 10 and 11 years from two local schools to come to our establishment to participate in a fun-filled day.

The children arrived, ready and willing, with their mother’s favourite aprons on. We took the children down to our orchard and talked about apples, plums and other fruits and berries. Most of the children either had an apple tree or knew someone that had one.

Then it was off to the kitchen to make pies, crumbles and tarts. I was worried about letting a group of children loose with flour in our clean kitchen so we broke the group into more manageable groups. Still, they didn’t let me down: they managed to cover every square inch of the kitchen with their ingredients! The reward for me was seeing them enjoy mixing the ingredients and understanding about the flavours.

All the pies, crumbles and tarts were popped in the oven and we adjourned into one of our dining rooms which we had turned into a classroom with a flip chart and a selection of British and worldwide fruits.

We asked the children about their favourite and least favourite meals. We then educated the children about the food chain and the importance of using fresh produce. Before the day started most of the children had turned their noses up at the thought of eating apples and plums.

Seeing the children tuck into what they had made was the best part of my day and also gave us our first ten minutes of silence. The children left with happy smiles and information packs with all their recipes and asked when could they come back.

I am happy to put something back into our local community and I couldn’t think of a better reason than supporting British food. I would like to thank Pauline Parker, our MD for her support. We look forward to taking part in British Food Fortnight again.

Andrew Bennett and Lisa Sutherland, Sheraton Park Lane, London

Andrew’s sister is a teacher at Wood Green Junior School, Wednesbury and through her we arranged to run two morning demonstrations and two hands-on afternoon sessions.

The morning demonstrations were aimed at parents and children, 30 parents and around 60 children came to each. We wanted to teach the parents how to use vegetables in a variety of different dishes so we cooked a roast pumpkin soup and a vegetarian pasta dish, the ingredients of which could also be turned into a floured wrap. The parents got involved with the omelette demonstration towards the end.

We set up a huge vegetable and fruit display. This really got the children’s attention, as they had never seen some of the produce on display. It was very hard to keep the children focused but we gave them a variety of cooked vegetables to taste. This was worthwhile because most of the children did try the vegetables even if they didn’t like them.

The afternoon sessions were for two groups of 16 children. They were fantastic! They all wore hats and aprons. To start with, we let them try a mixture of sweet, sour, salty and bitter foods to see if they could actually recognise which taste buds they were using and then we did a blind fold test so they could use their other senses. We sat with the children and helped them to prepare their own fruit kebabs with honey and yoghurt and to make their own smoothies.

We received so many letters from the children thanking us and telling us how they enjoy making smoothies in the morning before school and also that their mums and dads are making soups and pasta with them. It is amazing to watch 5 and 6 year-old children use their taste buds and it was very rewarding.

Phil Brown, the Columbia Hotel, Northampton

The Craft Guild of Chefs contacted me because Brake Bros wanted fifty of the Craft’s members to go into schools and give demonstrations using British produce; Brakes would supply ingredients to the value of £50.

Brakes gave me contact details of a local school that they supply. The school’s Food Technology Teacher and I agreed that I would run two sessions for year 9 students. The year 9 students were covering multi-cultural studies and so I decided to use British produce to make some ethnic dishes: Caribbean cornmeal Johnny cakes filled with a sweet chicken curry and turkey or sausage chow mein.

A lot of the students turned their noses up when I told them what we would be doing but, with assistance in preparing the dishes from a couple of students, they changed their tune and not one of the 20 students in each class left a scrap of food on their plate!

The members of staff were really thrilled with the demonstrations and talk. They said that the students really benefited from the sessions as they saw that British produce in season is not expensive, can be tasty and can be used in all types of cooking.