School chefs to get recipe for a healthier life

SCHOOL cooks in Westminster are set to go back to the classroom in a government-led scheme to teach them how to cook healthier food

Sanchez Manning

SCHOOL cooks in Westminster are set to go back to the classroom in a government-led scheme to teach them how to cook healthier food.

Thames Valley University is offering school caterers across Westminster the chance to sign up to a range of courses teaching healthy cooking techniques.

And Quintin Kynaston's dinners manager can't wait to create his very own Jamie's Kitchen as his staff get better qualified.

Michael Garcia, who works for caterers Harrison, said: "We never usually get this type of investment in catering staff so it is great that we are being offered training. We have asked to do courses before but they have never materialised, so I am all for this scheme."

Cash for the scheme comes from a £2million Feast fund set up by the School Fund Trust to provide a network of school dinner training centres.

Most Read

Two of the biggest school catering companies in the borough, Scolarest and Harrison Catering Service, have already expressed an interest in signing up their staff for the courses.

A spokesperson for Scolarest said: "Scolarest endorses anything which is designed to increase skills among school cooks. We recognise the important role these people have in providing fresh, nutritious food that young people want to eat."

Prof David Foskett from Thames Valley University welcomed the school dinner revolution, inspired by Primrose Hill chef Jamie Oliver. He said: "Jamie Oliver is not the first person to champion healthy eating in schools.

"Lots of us in food education have showed concerned for many years about the food culture in Britain.

"Jamie Oliver's School Dinners and this School Feast programme are long overdue.

"Too many young people are eating rubbish food containing very little nutrition.

"And the reason they are eating so badly is because of lack of food education because home economic classes have largely been taken away from schools.

"It is down to headteachers to make sure that school food should meet the required standard and many heads have failed to do this.

"The problem is that school caterers have been undervalued for years and hve not been given the training and education they need to deliver in their job."

Cooks who attend the university's new centre in Warwick Road, Ealing, can look forward to lessons on how to produce healthy school meals in an efficient and more cost effective way.

The training will include hands-on cooking lessons and advice on producing healthier food and still being cost effective.