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Cookery Courses News

Food Recycling will grow by teaching others better values

In the final article of this week’s topic, food recycling/food poverty, we visit one of the country’s most established organisations in that field, the Food AWARE Community Interest Company, associated with campaigns such as Healthy Start and its ongoing support of Love Food Hate Waste and the UK charitable outfit Chernobyl Children.

In itself, it is likewise a not-for-profit organisation and, in a similar vein to FoodCycle, our main topic on cookerycourses.co.uk this week, it relies on a combination of discarded food and volunteers but has had a little longer to establish itself and supports projects mainly in the north across Yorkshire and Humber.

What makes Food AWARE’s modus operandi ideal as the basis for a cookery course, amongst other aspects that we’ve dwelt upon using FoodCycle as an example through the week, is its focus on getting 5-a-day ingredients to those who may otherwise see no nutritious food on their plate.

This fits in perfectly with the amount of younger families that may be a) struggling to keep up with mortgage payments and therefore their budget for food is not as healthy as the diet they would prefer to eat and b) even if they did have fresh produce on their kitchen work surface, they would hardly know what to do with it, having been brought up on convenience food. It’s stating the obvious, but there is a very real need to address both.

As well as supporting many charitable organisations and community and church-led programs in the north, Food AWARE has a close affinity with Love Food Hate Waste, part of the wastewatch.org.uk scheme that has already committed to developing a 5-year diet program to encourage healthy eating, better for society as a whole – and thus the environment – and not only to get people to actually eat more wisely but have a very real appreciation of why the food they’re eating has both sustainable and planet-friendly values as well as delivering an overall more nutritious diet.

In summary of this week’s articles, all of the key issues are being addressed by organisations that are not in it for profit, which is great, but also limits their expansion and reaching a wider, more appreciative audience.

It needs more of the recognised food outlets, cookery courses and big brands to get behind these outfits to redistribute the food, yes, but in a way that people can learn to support themselves. These charities can then concentrate on growth, reducing the food surplus mountain and tackle poor nutrition in the less well-off regions of the country.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week and learnt as much as I have; here are the links to the other four articles, just in case you missed any:
1. Monday
2. Tuesday
3. Wednesday
4. Thursday

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Cookery School News

Cookery schools can help the UK fight food poverty

Where has this week gone, already? So here we are with our final instalment and summary, considering how cookery courses could get actively involved in the fight against food waste and food poverty in the UK and actively contribute towards food recycling.

So, here are the facts that have led me to my conclusion for the three posts so far this week.

• Looking to Cook is hosting an annual cookery school competition to find the best courses & school across the UK and Eire.
• Cookery schools would have a lot more students if the price was a little more affordable, the cost of the food itself being a major contributory factor.
• Around 4,000,000 people are living in food poverty in the UK
• 6,000,000 tons of edible food is discarded at supply/retail outlets
• There are a million young people aged 16-25 out of work
• Thousands of young people leave home not knowing how to cook
Locanda Locatelli has already paved the way, showing that there is no stigma attached to renowned, Michelin-rated even, cookery schools reaching out to further the FoodCycle cause
• Other organisations, like FoodAware, are already making in-roads with suppliers and rousing their own volunteer network across the UK and Ireland

So, come on cookery awards – let’s see a category for ‘best use of waste food’ added to next year’s event.

Ideally, the way forward would be to create a menu, even a set syllabus, utilising the basic food stuffs that get thrown away on a daily basis. Now, we appreciate that you cannot make demands on what supermarkets discard – if they knew what was going to be surplus in advance, they wouldn’t order that volume in the first place, would they? Unless, of course, there were price-breaks involved based on volume, whereby ordering x amount entitled you to price a, but ordering y amount entitled them to a cheaper price b. But even then, the likelihood is they would order what their forecast tells them they ought.

With FoodCycle, every group has a designated manager to oversee operations; to format any type of menu, it is critical that those managers keep a log of the type of food stuffs that go into their menus, where it comes from and what recipes it is used in once it arrives at the community centres.

With the existing links that Food Aware has, they may even already have access to this information; more about that organisation, tomorrow.

Once that has been collated, cookery courses could offer their services, whether it be a selection of chefs or kitchen space once a week to further their cause, even adding their own ‘brand’ into the recipes. What an opportunity for free advertising!

Imagine, for instance, FoodCycle groups expanding their network to Scotland’s second city, where food poverty and associated disease is rife amongst the poorer communities in Glasgow’s suburbs. Then Nick Nairn Cook School (details on our cookerycourses.co.uk home page), which has premises in both Port of Menteith between Glasgow and Edinburgh and further north in the harder to reach communities in Aberdeen reaching out, offering their services:

FoodCycle Glasgow, supported by Nick Nairn Cook School

How cool would that be? Okay, that is perhaps the idealistic and simplistic view and it would take a lot of co-operation to make this Utopia a reality. But if just one cookery school accepts the gauntlet, similar to how Locanda Locatelli has already shown us the way, that would be a huge step in the right direction.
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Cookery School News

Michelin-rated Cookery School joins FoodCycle cause

Welcome back to the third and penultimate part of our little run on FoodCycle and how, I believe, by cookery courses taking the initiative, the good work performed by volunteers around the country turning waste food into nutritious meals could be a win-win-win situation.

What do FoodCycle and cookery schools have in common?

Ok, the obvious answer is cooking food. But the secondary answer I’m looking for is: students!

Many of the 16-25 year old volunteers who help bring the discarded food from retail outlets to the tables of those suffering from food poverty in the community are students, not necessarily from the region they’re helping to bring suchre to.

We have written many an article on cookerycourses.co.uk about how youngsters leave home without even the most basic knowledge of cooking from fresh ingredients. Whilst cookery classes may be beyond the reach of a young family’s budget, getting involved in a project like FoodCycle will not only help that old dinosaur culinary ignoramus further down the road to extinction, but will also benefit a local community near you.

The cooking revolution has already started (and I was totally unaware of this before starting this serious – oops, sack the researcher!), but one London cookery school has already begun to tap into the talent flocking to FoodCycle from the universities and suburbs.

Only last week, Giorgio Locatelli and the guys at the La Cucina Caldesi in London W1 were offering 10 budding chefs the opportunity to take part in a cookery masterclass with the Michelin-star chef himself, before joining the main man to eat the three-course meal and soak up the atmosphere and a little of Giorgio’s fine dining philosophy. Cooking and philosophy from an Sicilian master – does it get any better than that?  Well actually, yes it does.  During the meal, owner of Enoteca Turi, Guiseppe Turi, was scheduled to guide the lucky students through a history of fine Italian wine, including what they were partaking in at the table.  Doubley Bubbly!

At £500 a head, it does, however, underline how far out of reach fine dining cookery classes are for the average family, but on this occasion, every penny went to the the FoodCycle cause. Now if my maths are anything like my writing…

…Kelvin needed £5,000 from this year’s fund raiser before he’d consider having the dragon tattoo on his back…10 guests were invited to Giorgio’s masterclass on the 19th June in London…at £500 a pop – hey, Kelvin – there’s your five G’s, big man…let us know when the ink’s dry and the scabs have healed!

Right, so that sums up my arguments. Join us for the fourth and final part of this mini series tomorrow, before we take a peep into another program in this growing niche already infiltrating UK retail outlets and raising a volunteer network across the nation, Food Aware CIC, to conclude our week on food recycling and food poverty.

This has been a real eye-opening ride, so far; I just hope more cookery schools, including the 2012 awards, take the Locanda Locatelli attitude towards the cause, taking in the bigger picture rather than the short-sighted view of remaining somewhat exclusive.

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Cookery Courses News

Cookery courses + FoodCycle = oh, c’mon, keep up…

So you’re all dying to know: what’s this great idea of Zeb’s to get food recycling, unemployed volunteers and communities to work in unison with cookery schools, right? No? Perhaps you’ve not read yesterday’s article, then…Cookery courses could incorporate FoodCycle…okay?

Good, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up. I’ve had a good night’s sleep, feel refreshed enough to tackle two ideas in two days (yes, I’ve had another one) and moreover, scribble the thoughts down in black and white and share them with you, my avid audience.

First of all, we need to understand a little bit more about what exactly FoodCycle does that makes them the perfect candidate for this opportunity. The exposure and link with their community that a cookery school would get, in my opinion, far outstrips any aspirations of ‘brand recognition’ they could hope to achieve for offering quality cooking classes. But in that respect, not having a bridge to their market in any tangible sense, I’m not sure if they’d agree. But here goes.

Salvaging edible food

Did you know that every year, 400,000 tons of food that is fit for consumption is discarded by food retailers?

UK food deprivation

Of its sixty-million plus population, 4,000,000 – almost 7% – are affected by food poverty in this country. For a ‘civilised society’, that’s plain ridiculous.

Voluntary work for the unemployed

There are two and a half million people in this country without a job, 40% of whom are between the ages of 16-25 – that’s a million young adults out of work! It’s alright saying ‘get a job’, but where is their experience – the all important factor employers look for – going to come from?

Kelvin Cheung, who turned 29 earlier this month, was the visionary beyond bringing all three of those aspects together to help individuals suffering from food poverty, bring communities together by sourcing free kitchen space and giving young adults experience of working as a team and with a defined goal that they would otherwise not be afforded by getting them involved and turning this waste food into essential, nutritional meals for the needy.  Simple, effective but someone had to ahve the balls to actually do it.  Kelvin was the one who grew them.

Now, my secondary thought is that, announced on here earlier this week, is the upcoming cookery course of the year award. Can you see where I’m going with this secondary idea?

If not, c’mon – keep up! Okay, perhaps it’s still a bit vague. I’ll give you a clue before tomorrow’s article: FoodCycle + Cookery Courses = ???

I said a clue – I’m not going to give you the answer like that, am I? See you tomorrow.

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Cookery courses could incorporate FoodCycle

This is just a though, right – yes, before you say it, I did position myself over something soft when I felt it coming on – but FoodCycle and cookery courses across the country could literally do not only our young folk a massive favour, but also all of those who’d love to learn to cook but find that the price of the average cookery class is just a little bit beyond their reach.

Now, I’m not saying that the average cookery class is over priced by any stretch of the imagination.  When you think of the prep time involved for each class (kitchens, calendars, guest chefs, advertising), the chefs themselves, their expertise and the liability insurance costs involved with opening up their premises, especially with all of those sharp, hot, boiling objects just waiting to go in the accident book, you can see why they charge what they do.  And that’s before you consider the cost of the ingredients themselves.  It’s just that with the current financial climate and austerity measures hitting home more and more every month, the average family budget may not stretch to a few cookery classes, even if the proven long term benefits suggest that families may actually save cash and eat more healthily by learning to cook fresh.

Now, this is where the whole thesis of my bright idea kicks in – hang on, I need a couple more paracetamol…ah, that’s better.  Now, where was I?  Yes, my spark.

The cost of food all through the chain, from originating countries demanding higher (or just fair) wages, to transport costs, to fodder for the animals and the rise in petroleum taking its toll on plastic packaging (believe me, I know where I’m coming from), has risen far in excess of inflation, hence at a lot greater rate than the average salary in the UK.  And the food is a very real cost incorporated in the price of your cookery school fees, especially if you’re taking on a three- or four-course meal in your given class.

This is where FoodCycle could well and truly come in, if only there was a mediator to bring the two together.  Set up a FoodCycle group or brand purely designated to design cookery courses and recipes around the most common food-stuffs thrown away by supermarkets at the end of every shift and find a cookery school willing to take the chance of staking their reputation on using said food, rather than purport simply to offer cookery classes in the art of exotic cuisine and/or fine dining.

Join me tomorrow when I bring this earth-shattering idea of mine to a logical conclusion – c’mon, I’ve had the thought and written the theory behind it in one day…what do you want, blood?

See you bright and early in the morning for part deux. Keep in touch with yourself, now. xxx

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Cookery School News

UK and Ireland cookery school 2012 competition launched

Heads up all of you purveyors of cookery courses – the 2012 Looking To Cook competition has been launched to find la crème de la crème of UK and Irish cookery schools and there is a whole host of categories into which you can enter your school/company, in whole or in categories in which you know you excel.

It has to be said, you can’t look into this niche without seeing a new cookery school open its doors every week. From independents to giants in the hospitality trade, from a group of select chefs to manufacturers of food and drink products, all are seen as ways of bringing either expertise or a particular product into the every day lives of budding chefs who genuinely want to enhance their skills and learn to cook meals other than traditionally accepted fare.

Whilst cookery schools themselves bestow awards upon its pupils and suppliers and manufacturers/brands celebrate their own chefs of the year regularly, Looking to Cook has decided it’s about to honour those cookery schools that are all-important in the learning curve that sees aspiring chefs go from newbie to nouvelle and from mediocre to Michelin.

Does your cookery school go above and beyond the the call of duty?

So, if your cookery school offers that little bit extra, takes the average chef out of their comfort zone to try the amazing instead of the amateur menu, the Looking to Cook awards want to know about it. And what’s best about this competition is that it not only has an extremely simplified process to enter, it is also free*.

The process is simple enough. There are detailed category listings on the Looking to Cook site, as well as further in depth info about the cookery school competition itself. Simply send an e-mail detailing which of the categories you’d like your school/company name entered into and a quick résumé indicating on what basis you believe your cookery courses qualify for that category.

There is a limit on the number of categories any one cookery school can enter of three. You can enter up to two of the categories for free; *if you opt for a third, it does attract a fee of £29. The prestigious award for overall best cookery school will be determined from a shortlist based on the winners of each regional best school. There’s also a bonus award of best website, which is not a category you can enter into per se, but of all those who enter the competition, Looking to Cook will cast the vote to the public to see which they think offers the best overall digital cookery school experience.

Full competition details are available on their website.

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Cookery Courses London News

L’atelier des Chefs: the all-in-one corporate cooking course

It is so difficult finding suitable team building activities that will incorporate the capabilities of all of your troops whilst keeping them constantly motivated and delivering that sense of teamwork that is the essence of such an exercise.

One of the more popular ways of achieving this goal, that doesn’t involve your workforce having to traipse half way across the country already demotivated and in the doghouse with their other half because of the two nights you’ve planned for them doing outdoor pursuits, is the corporate cookery course.

L’atelier des Chefs, a London cookery school that has just opened up its second venue in St Paul’s, has become somewhat expert at organising just this type of hands-on, goal-oriented event. From the concept through to the end result, having worked as a team to get where they are, they know all about what it means to work together and have a bit of fun in the process. No standing up to your knees in a freezing cold river in the middle of Wales, here.

Both the Oxford Circus venue and the new St Paul’s cookery school offer flexibility in a location where space usually comes at a premium, the centre of London, and with contemporary kitchens and Michelin-trained chefs L’atelier des Chefs, whilst holding true to the ‘art of delicious, accessible food‘, have an uncommon view of what team-building is all about.

There are other cookery schools that offer corporate cookery courses, for sure, but the dedicated operations team that organise the events for the London venues not only offer spaces for 12-180 victims employees to work together, but they can also make the elements of the cookery courses bespoke to the specific team-building goals you’re aiming to achieve.

Whether you have would-be Tom Cruises looking to create the perfect company cocktail, are looking to send the guys and gals out to learn to cook for a seasonal event or even set departments head to head against each other in cook-off challenges, L’atelier des Chefs can tailor a menu to suit your needs.

Not only that, their West End venue can host your corporate networking event before taking the results of your labour into a private dining space to hone in on those potential relationships or even host a PR Event for the launch of a new product or if you have some hot off the press news you want to ‘big up’ as an announcement to your team or customer base.

If it all sounds too good to be true, check them out for yourselves. Access their site through our home page on cookerycourses.co.uk where you can sign up to follow them on facebook, receive their newsletter or contact them directly if you’ve already got the event in mind. Bon Apetit, tous les mondes. x

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Food and Ingredients News

Oliver Peyton OBE – restaurateur, entrepreneur, gentleman

To many of us, Oliver Peyton is the often overly-critical judge on the increasingly-popular TV show, The Great British Menu. But he’s much more to the hospitality industry than that, a fact that has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list for this year with the Irish-born entrepreneur being awarded an OBE for his services to an industry that, by his own admission, has served him well, too.

His UK career started not so much in cookery trade as the critic and restaurateur we know of today, but in a the far-removed vein of the same industry of running nightclubs. In the eighties, when he’d have not been so old himself, he ran both Brighton’s The Can nightclub and RAW in the capital.

It seemed a natural springboard then, once he’d dipped his entrepreneurial toe into the drinks supply consumer-end of the market, to step up a level and import beverages for resale onto others within the trade. His distribution and promotions network is accredited with bringing both Sapporo, the Japanese beer named after the city in which it originated and a spirit that needs no introduction, Absolut Vodka.

In the nineties, Peyton’s career emigrated from wet sales to dry as he opened the Atlantic Bar & Grill in London’s West End, his first restaurant (closed 2005). During his time there, he latched onto the notion that the world was about to begin being conscious of from where its food was sourced and the effect upon the planet that the food we ate had. The result was St James’ Park’s ‘Inn The Park’, a restaurant recognised for both its original architecture and its eco-friendly values.

Peyton and Byrne, the partnership of which Oliver is both Founder and Chairman of, are now the leading lights in providing open-air dining experiences, a trait all too familiar with anyone who watches The Great British Menu. After several regional heats, four chefs are chosen to invent, prepare and deliver in feast-sized quantities the dish of their creating to an open-air extravaganza for whichever cause is the beneficiary of that season’s show.

But the tall, gaunt Irishman with incisive wit does not stop at bringing the best out of the nation’s chefs. The Peyton & Byrne brand owns bakeries and cafes and Peyton Events is his own foray into providing exclusive dining facilities to some of London’s finest establishments. In typical fashion, when asked of his reaction to be awarded such a special accolade, he said it was ‘the icing on the cake’ to his wonderful career in an industry to which he is both indebted and that owes him a great debt of gratitude for his foresight and services to it, too.

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Food and Ingredients News

Unilever to instigate UK healthy eating out campaign

Although the UK is still officially a fair way behind the U.S. in the obesity stakes, our rise in overweight children and adults alike is very much a cause for concern. As things stand, a quarter of our adult population are clinically obese – compare that with one report that suggests that by as soon as the year 2030 90% of Americans will top the scales over and above regulatory guidelines, and you see just how bad the problem is.

Although celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver have tried to instil healthy eating practise through school menus, little will change until one of the global conglomerates jump ship and decides it really is time to start educating the world that ‘we are what we eat’ by example. And as they don’t come much bigger than Unilever, we may well be at the dawn of a bright new day in nutrition for healthy living.

Lisa Faulkner, Celebrity Masterchef winner, has been chosen to spearhead the Unilever Food Solutions Ambu-lunch campaign. The initiative has been launched to cut half a billion calories from the UK’s eat-out menus. In theory, they have deduced that by slashing just 24 calories per meal will go a long way to resolving the obesity issue.

As such, Lisa Faulkner will be out and about in the Ambu-lunch itself, starting with the launch of its healthy eating campaign outside the Houses of Parliament (where it is rumoured the Secretary for Health has been invited to hop on board the pimped up ambulance) before setting off around the country driving home the campaign’s message to eateries, catering colleges and cookery courses.

Choosing Lisa Faulkner, a veritable champion of the healthy eating cause, was a stroke of genius by Unilever, a move instigated by their most up-to-date World Menu Report 3 that suggests over fifty percent of consumers crave healthier options on the pub and restaurant menus across the nation.

The report, tagged ‘Seductive Nutrition’, revealed exactly what improvements customers want to see. The answers were not only an eye-opener as to how clued up customers are, but also by how far the hospitality trade was second-guessing – and missing – its target audience’s tastes. In descending order, here’s what the UK public want to see more of on their menus (a must-see for all cookery schools who are looking for their next promotions):
• A wider choice and greater serving of vegetables
• Portion control adjusted down to recommended calorific sizes
• Less fat used in cooking and on served meat (now, that’s bad, see – everybody needs good fat – that’s where media have blinded the market it seeks to control)
• Fresh ingredients over frozen
• A reduction of calories (hence the launch of Ambu-lunch, one would suggest)
• And finally, grilled food over fried

In an attempt to bolster interest, chefs who sign up for the deal have access to all sorts of online information produced by Unilever, like healthier options for individual ingredients, calorific calculators and portion sizing to name a few, all designed so that taste isn’t impacted. No doubt, healthy eating in the UK just took one giant leap in the right direction.

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Cookery School News

From plantation to plate up – something’s missing

Continuing with our food and farming theme – we’ve got a cracking post about world food wastage coming up tomorrow; it will open your eyes, for sure – but today we look at how much knowledge is coming off the farmyard and finding its way into our offspring’s minds. Judging from a recent survey conducted by Linking Environment And Farming, not a fat lot.

We’ve written many articles on cookerycourses.co.uk about the importance of learning young people to cook. Many leave school with only the knowledge of how to cook ready- or microwave meals, often not even how to be even that resourceful. But this recent survey by LEAF, the food certification body, shows that we perhaps need to start a little further back in the chain if we are really going to bring cookery as a practical skill to our children.

And we’re not talking infants, juniors or senior school aged children, here; we’re talking those in further education and beyond, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. Astonishingly, 3% of those surveyed believed that bacon came off of cows, whilst a third answered something else other than pigs.

Furthermore, the LEAF study of the 2,000 young adults found that less than a half of those questioned knew where butter came from. The picture question showed three pictures: a dairy cow, beef cattle and wheat. Whilst less than fifty percent opted for the dairy cow (25% not even hazarding a guess at all), 8% opted for the beef cattle and 7% – that’s 140 young adults out of 2,000 – believed that butter was obtained from wheat. Incredible. Everyone knows it comes from buttercups!

Wheat is – allegedly – the provider of butter, eggs and steak

Wheat seemed a popular answer, with 10% guessing that eggs came from either it or maize and 12% – that’s nearly one in eight – answered that steak – STEAK for goodness sake – came from wheat, also.

And as for guessing how long crops took to be ready for harvest from plantation, ten percent of the young adults thought that wheat, oats and potatoes would be ready in less than a month. Some fertilizer, that!

In order to address the concern over the survey’s findings, CEO of LEAF, Caroline Drummond, wants to tackle another aspect thrown up by the survey, which is that thirty percent of kids born in the nineties haven’t been to a farm in a decade or more. Yesterday, LEAF held Open Farm Sunday in an attempt to bring the public closer to the food they eat at its root source.  Hundreds of farms across the UK took part in the event and we await figures to see how well received the day was.

If this is the state of farming and food education, perhaps our cookery schools are missing a trick, here? As well as teaching young adults to cook, they could incorporate basic food knowledge, too. With so many cookery classes taking place in farmhouse kitchens, what a wonderful opportunity to educate our children: “from plantation to plate-up“. Bagsy copyright on the name, if anyone takes it up!

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