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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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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 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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