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Rotherham fire station set to host cookery courses

Fire-fighters at a fire station in Rotherham have allowed a local chef from the town’s catering college to use their kitchen to run a series of cookery courses aimed at local residents.

The cooking courses, which will take place in the Fitzwilliam Road station, every Thursday evening for a period of six weeks, are designed to teach people how to cook delicious healthy meals within the constraints of a tight budget.

The courses will last for two hours and will feature instructions on how to prepare and cook a different family meal each week.

Rotherham’s Metropolitan Borough Council is funding the initiative whilst the supermarket giant Asda has kindly agreed to donate all the required ingredients.

Those residents that attend the cookery courses also will be offered advice and suggestions, where required about how to go about gaining employment within the food industry. In addition, fire fighters at the fire station have agreed to offer participants advice about how they can protect their homes from the dangers of fire.

A spokesman explained that it is hoped that the scheme will give the people of Rotherham the skills required to cook healthy nutritional dishes within the confines of a budget and, as a result, help them to live a much healthier lifestyle.

It is hoped that the additional fire safety advice will also help to ensure that the participants feel more comfortable and confident in the kitchen.

A spokesman for Asda explained that the company was proud to be part of the cookery course and is excited to be supporting such a great scheme aimed at teaching local residents how to cook nutritional and healthy food.

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News

Jamie snoops on restaurant staff

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has installed CCTV in his restaurant kitchens in a move designed to help ensure that diners receive better quality food.

Jamie recently admitted that he doesn’t have time to visit each of his restaurants and, as a result, the globe trotting chef has resorted to modern technology to give him the capability of inspecting every plate of food that leaves his restaurant kitchens.

The system allows him to closely inspect individual dishes and identify those chefs who aren’t serving the expected quality of food.

The system is the first of its kind and will be installed in Jamie’s restaurants throughout the country. Jamie explained that he has great chefs in all of his restaurants and that the CCTV cameras are a really efficient way of ensuring that quality is maintained.

Security firms have now installed the system in nineteen of Jamie’s twenty three kitchens. The cameras operate at all times with the full knowledge of staff working in the kitchens. Jamie is able to view the live feeds whichever country he’s in, at the click of his mouse.

The footage will also be regularly reviewed by staff at Jamie’s London HQ. His team of executive chefs will conduct quality checks, at random, on his behalf.

Staff have suggested that working in the kitchens will be like being a contestant on Big Brother. Although the cameras will mean that staff will be under observation throughout the day, many are unsurprised at the move, given Jamie’s reputation for high standards.

A spokesperson for MRFS, the CCTV firm who installed the cameras explained that each time a dish leaves the kitchen it will streamed live, in high definition. Jamie and members of his team will then be able to monitor that the food meets the required standard – it could influence the way in which kitchens approach the topic of quality control.

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Food and Ingredients News

Celebrity chefs could do more to reduce food waste

A new study has revealed that the cookery styles encouraged by high profile chefs are unlikely to reduce the nation’s huge amount of food waste generated by British households.

Dr David Evans, a member of the University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute, claims that the desire to eat a wide range of meals coupled with the drive to prepare more dishes from scratch can result in more food waste.

Dr Evans studied nineteen Manchester households during the course of eight months in an attempt to understand why the nation throws away over eight million tonnes of food waste each year.

Dr Evans watched people prepare, cook and shop for food and also asked them to discuss the contents of their cupboards, fridges and freezers. He claims that whilst consumers are often blamed for lacking the ability to cook or not caring enough about wasting food, he found nothing in his study to support this view.

The research suggests that people don’t generally need cookery courses but do sometimes find it hard to make use of leftovers. This is particularly true when the family contains are fussy eaters who often prefer established recipes to more improvised meals.

Dr Evans argues that the current volumes of household food waste should be considered as the result of people negotiating the contradictory and complex demands of everyday life. He believes that the pressure from celebrity chefs to eat and cook in certain ways inevitably leads to a greater risk of food waste.

Most food advocated by celebrity chefs is perishable and therefore should be eaten fairly quickly. Our unpredictable leisure schedules and working hours make it more difficult to make best use of the food in our cupboards and fridges.

Dr Evans believes that those with influence including celebrity chefs should recognize the issues and consider how to make it desirable or at least socially acceptable for people to use frozen vegetables or eat the same dish for several consecutive nights.

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News

Young Carers Benefit From Cookery Courses

Young carers from the South Tyneside region have spent the summer holidays acquiring valuable skills at cookery courses arranged by the Cooking for Life project.

Young carers are often required to take on many of the roles traditionally played by parents. These can included completing the weekly shop and preparing meals for the entire family.

Shopping and planning meals on a tight budget can be very challenging so the cooking courses offered to members of South Tyneside’s Young Carers Scheme have been really helpful.

In addition to teaching the youngsters how to cook, the cookery courses also focused on explaining how to use the kitchen equipment, the importance of a balanced diet and also how to stay safe.

Interaction with the group and social skills were also an important aspect of the project. The youngsters were able to relax with friends and enjoy the meal that they had helped to prepare.

Members of the Cooking for Life project have been working with youngsters in the area for the last ten years. A spokeswoman for the project, Joyce Greely explained that the North-East is unfortunately one of the least healthy places in the UK, with rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease rapidly increasing.

By the time that they leave home, many young people lack basic food knowledge and are unable to prepare simple balanced meals themselves. Many fail to recognise the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Without additional help, this lack of basic skills and unhealthy lifestyle is likely to be passed onto their children. It is for this reason that the Cooking for Life project was established. It aims to teach young people and their families how to prepare great tasting meals that are also cheap, healthy and nourishing.

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Food and Ingredients News

Gluten Free Cookery Courses

The charity Coeliac UK estimates that around 1% of the UK population is affected by coeliac disease.

If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, or coeliac disease, then it’s likely that you will need to completely review your cooking habits.

Gluten features in many different foods, including several that you would not expect. Learning how to prepare gluten-free dishes is a positive way of adjusting to your new lifestyle. There are many great gluten-free dishes and by tackling the allergy head on you will feel more in control.

Several cookery schools now offer gluten-free cooking courses but in our view the following are well worth considering.

The Cookery School, Glasgow

The Cookery School is based in Glasgow’s city centre and is one of the city’s best kept secrets. It is well known for its wide variety of cooking courses – from classes for the promising chef, whisky and wine tasting and cupcake courses to hen parties and corporate events.

All courses are very practical, with everything provided, including recipes, equipment, ingredients, and an apron.

During the one-day ‘Gluten-Free Baking & Bread’ cookery course guests will learn how to prepare chocolate muffins, a herb loaf, fruit scones, cupcakes, Victoria sponge and butter icing. The day will include a mixture of chef demonstrations and practical hands-on learning.

Lunch with wine is included and guests will have the opportunity to take their best work home with them. Bookings are currently being taken for the next course which begins on 17th November.

Gluten-Free Cooking For Kids, Oxfordshire

Gluten-Free Cooking For Kids have launched a new gluten-free bakery course at the Miele Centre in Abingdon. The one-day course will focus on preparing guest for the Christmas period and is a great opportunity to learn some fantastic new skills.

The course will be delivered using a mixture of demonstrations and hands-on learning. It will be packed with lots of hints and tips. Guests will learn how to prepare many gluten-free Christmas classics, including mince pies, canapés, turkey stuffing, biscuits galore and sticky and moist cakes.

All necessary ingredients and materials are provided. Guests will also receive refreshments, including lunch, and recipes of the dishes they have learnt.

The course is suitable for both novices and more experienced chefs. Bookings are currently being taken for the next course which begins on 24th November.

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News

Shropshire farm joins forces with cookery school

Maynards Farm in Shrewsbury has teamed up with the Seasoned Cookery School to offer a range of different cookery courses.

The team at Seasoned already run courses throughout Staffordshire and Derbyshire, and are proud of their reputation for teaching students of all abilities.

The courses at Maynards will utilise the farm’s fantastic produce and will be delivered by a team of expert chefs. Topics will range from Best of British Meat to Indian Entertaining.

Seasoned’s founder, Clare Tetley, explained that all of their cooking courses are delivered by professionals in a fun and relaxed environment. The aim is to give people a fun day out at the same time as helping people to improve their cookery skills.

The cookery school was launched during 2010, and since then has taught more than a thousand people, from youngsters who have never cooked before to aspiring chefs that are aiming to perfect their dishes. The school primarily focuses on daily courses for keen amateurs and uses eight different chefs each with different passions and skills. The team consists of experts on subjects such as Indian cuisine, restaurant food, food smoking, baking and cake decorating.

In addition to the courses at Maynards Farm, Seasoned are also offering food education to schools and community groups in Shropshire. Recent activities have included,

  • Student survival courses for school leavers preparing for University,
  • Workshops with CLIC Sargent for cancer patients,
  • Respite courses for carers and
  • Fundraising and other fast food projects in schools.

The Seasoned team are passionate about food education and believe that teaching people the fundamentals of cookery can give them a skill that will last a lifetime.

A number of cookery courses are scheduled to take place over the coming months. These include Indian Entertaining, Food Smoking, One-Pot Wonders and Easy Entertaining. All will take place at Maynards Farm in the recently converted barn.

For further information please visit the cookery school’s website.

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Food and Ingredients News

Potato Council turns up shocking vegetable know-how stats

Oh my life, I’m so sorry. I do so keep tittering. It’s taken me an absolute age to start writing this. Okay – deep breath…and begin…
…over on the Great British Chef’s blog, they have an article about the ineptitude and ignorance of adults when it comes to knowing what are or what to do with vegetables. That I can sort of understand and it is so not a laughing matter.

When one in five adults in the UK believes that parsnips grow on trees, we’re in big trouble. We all know that they come out of pods, of course. But it’s not the context of the article that’s slaying me – it’s the people who conducted the survey – oh, Lawdy, I’m off again. Composure, love, c’mon.

According to the Potato Council (did anyone have Mr Potato Head? I just keep seeing variations of all of the different disguises sported by said character, sitting around a table of war – I’m so very sorry), not only did swathes of the 2,000 correspondents in the study lack knowledge of some of the absolute staples of the vegetarian portion of our diet, but also 95% weren’t at all phased by their ignorance. Is it any wonder that obesity and type two diabetes is abound?

Mr Potato Head kwikloks
credit: A Healthy Mr Potato Head, kwikloks 

Here are just a few snippets of the worrying results that the survey, conducted ahead of Potato Week and, one would expect, to highlight the exact lack of knowledge that the results, maybe somewhat predictably, turned up:

  • Twenty percent of all adults polled were blissfully ignorant of potato brands King Edward or Maris Piper.
  • Approximately one hundred of the adults surveyed believed that the Granny Smith was a variety of potato, whilst
  • a further two hundred thought that tomatoes were harvested out of the ground.

Incredible as it sounds, TGBC article makes a very good point. With even vegetables sliced and diced and microwave-ready from the coolers and freezers in the supermarkets, why should adults possess in-depth knowledge of the origin of each species of vegetable they ‘prepare’ for their families?

Oh, and that was another thing – not only was not recognising traditional potato brands or believing that some brands of apples were quite literally la pomme de terre an issue, but also many subjects said they had an issue cooking spuds, once they’d got past that tricky stage of identifying them.  I’d love to see how the Granny Smith French Fries turned out…moving on.

From not being able to make ‘fluffy’ roasters (50%) to boiled potatoes crumbling into the water (34%) to mash being too lumpy/sloppy (28%), all were cited as barriers to culinary prowess using the most basic ingredient in the kitchen.

It may help those struggling that the Potato Council has issued a re-classification for spud-types. I’m not as confident as Caroline Evans, of the Potato Council, in her belief that the new branding will help struggling chefs to “…pick the potato that’s right for each dish, every time.” The new classifications are:

  • Fluffy
  • Salad
  • Smooth

What do you think?  Lord help them when they have to make chips, that’s all I can say…talk about half-baked?

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Cookery Class News

Don’t want to be labelled obese? Obey the labels!

Having put together a nutritional diet for an ‘abs’ program, there’s little I don’t know about food labelling.  Much of that is thanks to the in-depth research necessary to turn the diet used as the basis for the program from the haute cuisine status it held, whilst delivering exactly the same results, into a Supermarket own-label branded diet (in the majority).

In fact, if you were to lay out the majority of everyday foods on a table, I’d be able to give you a rough approximation of the make up of each ingredient, fats, carbs, protein and any vitamin and/or mineral content, including sodium. Once you get to that stage, you begin to take it for granted that everyone else, similarly conscious of what they’re feeding their bodies (you so very are what you eat), at least shows a passing interest in what the packaging says about the food within. But apparently not.

That ever-popular editorial Agricultural Economics has recently issued this year’s results of the National Health Interview Survey in the US. It highlighted, for me, three main instances that could be directly addressed to tackle the epidemic of obesity spreading the globe (not to mention far too many waistlines), upon the crest of which rides the ever-growing problem of type two diabetes, even in younger adults.

The first, and for the woman looking for a quick fix to tackle their weight loss issues, is perhaps the one that is simplest to implement, is that women who don’t read food labels are an average 9lbs heavier than their content-querying counterparts. That’s like half a stone and then some!

Secondly, the annual study suggests that those who continued their education after compulsory schooling were more likely to consult the food labels than those who’d quit as soon as they were able.

And tertiary – portion control. Quite simply, if you don’t know how many calories, grams of saturated fat or nutritional content each meal contains, how on earth can you begin to serve up healthy options for you and your family?

All of this suggests that the education about food we receive falls way short and it’s often up to us as adults to go out into the world and learn even the basics of nutritional content that will help us live our lives to the full and engender our children to do the same.

There is plenty of further reading on here under the ‘healthy eating‘ tag, but why not do something about learning how to cook healthy and nutritious food yourself? We offer many regional cookery courses for you to compare. Check them out and see where you can get a hold of your nearest healthy-eating cookery class to kick-start your metabolism, hence your life. It is that serious.

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Cookery Courses London News Uncategorized

Cookery courses to the fore in team-building events

We’ve mentioned it a fair bit this year, but the traditional team-building events, whilst still very much available, are now more health and safety conscious than ever. I can’t imagine that the scree-running, abseiling and pot-holing we did in Bryntysilio would feature very highly on the HSE-friendly to-do list, these days.

A much safer way of bonding the workforce is to get them into the kitchen, where even the majority of appliances, these days, are practical and safe. Well, I wouldn’t call some of the ingredients my wife cobbles together safe, but you know what I mean? Mm, I wonder if Lloyds TSB are thinking of running any team-building cookery courses?

And that leads me nicely into today’s topic…
…I was talking to James Coakes whilst portending another hat I wear and he mentioned that he’d organised a troupe off on a jolly as a works’ team building event to a restaurant. Standard fare, I thought. But then he happened to mention that it was also a cooking class in…wait for it…
chocolate!

Now, you all know that I’m a healthy eating lad, but my one Achilles Heel – and I think it’s to replace the beer since hip surgery last year – is chocolate. And we used to end up orienteering through fields of cows in a musty-smelling Welsh forest? I’m sorry, Wales, but you know that ‘fine Welsh mud’ that happy couple (obviously on Prozak) were washing off their bike wheels in your promo ad – you can keep it!

Anyway, I digress. This is how far this type of networking, company-socialising pastime has come. No longer is it down entirely to the individual cookery schools to try to snare the attention of people looking for cookery courses online, there are team-building companies incorporating them into their menu.

James’ company’s called the teambuilding company (funnily enough) and as well as the chocolate team-building cookery course he offers, there’s a Chinese affair, entitled Team Wok – and that’s the name of the company, not a slogan James or his associates have dreamed up – as well as Sumptuous Sushi, Cocktail-making (boy, did I used to think I was Tom Cruise in my bar-tender days…definitely more of a Bryan Brown character, these days?) and a Cuisine-Team event.  All but one of the Rocket Restaurants venues, host for the  lessons in how to make chocolate, is in London so if you can’t make the Nottingham restaurant, it’s a trip down to The Smoke, so your staff will at least feel like they’ve had a night out and a chance to glug some of the petty cash in London, as only the best staff does.

So, if you’re a company boss and not sure about how a weekend trekking in the Welsh Hills is going to go down with your staff, why not try cookery courses next time your planning to get your employees to bond?

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Food and Ingredients News

Coffee good for the brain? I ought to be the next Einstein!

Good day, guys and girls. Thanks for rejoining us for this second exploratory post into the top ten brain foods as advised by The Cooking Academy. If you missed the first three choice ingredients in the list, you can find them on yesterday’s post, Foods that are naturally healthy for body, mind and soul, where we marvelled at how ingredients classed as healthy options for the body are also believed to have potent mind-boosting powers, too.

So, in total contrast, let’s start today with number four in the Cooking Academy’s list, and an inclusion that should make me the brightest spark against the night sky if its power is increment by volume, coffee! In fact, I know a few myth-shattering facts about their number four item so I’ll not wax lyrical about coffee here; we’ll save the detail for a future article. Suffice to know that its inclusion in the list, in its purest, served form, is based on its antioxidant qualities and ability to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Ah, “in moderation”, it says. Boooooo!

5. Nuts! Another ingredient utilised positively by both body and mind. Ever feel relaxed when you sniff almonds? That’s because the neurotransmitters therein elevate your mood. Walnuts are a great food if you’re peckish before bedtime as they help with insomnia and many nuts, including the bog-standard peanut, include nutrients that boost mental clarity; the vast majority also contain healthy, natural fats in their oils, prolifically Omega 3.
6. Avocados – a fruit that has long been steered away from by dieters (in error) is good for the blood, believed to help reduce pressure and increase the flow to the brain, improving its function. The healthy fats in avocados are an ideal substitute for saturates in a calorie controlled diet, too.
7. Eggs – another much-maligned product and, whether your looking to lose weight through diet and training or want a sharper mind, eggs fit the bill. The choline therein is associate with the building blocks of memory function whilst the protein and healthy fats are the basis of building and protecting healthy muscle tissue. Boiled or poached eggs will not, as urban myth has it, rocket your cholesterol; even at two a day, the effect of their nutritious content can help balance your body’s relative levels.
8. Whole grain – mm, the jury’s out on this one as far as dieting goes, but I’m totally in favour of it, for reasons other than content. In the context of the brain, they contribute massively to a healthy circulation. Some nutritionists may warn against wholegrain bread as part of a heavy resistance training diet but, for me at least, the benefits the grain give as an intestinal hoover due to their high-fibre content far outweigh the reasons some trainers give for not incorporating it. The grains are also a source of healthy, natural fats you can include in your diet without necessarily having to think to hard about it.
9. Chocolate – okay, here’s the second and final item on the list that you wouldn’t find on a dieter’s main menu, the darker the better, up to the point where it gets too bitter. Above 70% for me and it’s pushing it, but the Cooking Academy’s author prefers 85% cocoa – ugh, that makes me shudder. But, dark/plain chocolate (again in moderation) contains high concentrations of antioxidants and has been proven to target focus – perfect for the freelance writer who may get distracted by World Golf Tour or his e-mail, for instance…time to visit Hotel Chocolat again, methinks. Milk chocolate, surprisingly, has benefits too, cutting down reaction time as well as improving memory function.
10. And finally, Broccoli. One of the great Superfoods and, in my humble opinion, second in the all-time list behind only blueberries. It helps improve memory, is saturated with vitamins, helps reduce the ageing process and also helps improve memory. Mm, quite.

So, thanks to Kumud Ghandi who originally complied this list for The Cooking Academy and I hope you’ve enjoyed my expansion on the original theme, incorporating snippets on the bodily benefits as well as the brain power you’ll now exhibit by incorporating these ingredients into your diet – even if it’s not a healthy one, by inclusion of these natural food stuffs, you may well turn a corner there, too.

Some of the ingredients may not be the easiest to incorporate into the weekly cook/shop – why not check out our hand-picked cookery courses to see if those courses we are rating as offering the best value at your time of reading this (we do acid-test them, so the individual cookery schools we feature often rotate) offer a nutrition/healthy cookery class you can draw upon for inspiration?

Got a comment? We’d love to hear from you.