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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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