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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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Cookery Courses News

Cooking course gives college students a taste for success

Charitable trust Mentor Link is helping students at Church Hill Middle School in the West Midlands get the opportunity to become the future Jamie Oliver.

A grant of five hundred pounds has recently been awarded to run cooking courses within the college.

The funds arrived following Mentor Link’s successful application for support via West Mercia Police’s Community and Voluntary Sector Awards.

The courses are being run by experienced culinary experts Andrew Powis and his wife Elaine.

Mrs Powis stated: “I tutor 3 students while Andrew tutors 1.”

“The students are really passionate about their cookery courses and have picked a wide range of dishes.The most favoured recipe were crepes which have been tried and appreciated by the headmaster Philip Hume.”
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“Because of time restrictions we’ve unsurprisingly needed to make use of packet blends however they haven’t spoilt the students’ enjoyment.”

Aside from acquiring a brand new approach, the purpose of the cookery course is to get tutors to communicate with and befriend the students on a one-to-one basis every week and develop a much more constructive mindset towards studying.

Mrs Powis also explained: “We attempt to instil a strong awareness of working together, maths, safety and health issues, social skills and individual hygiene however it isn’t often simple. Any kind of bad behaviour leads to a exclusion from the subsequent lesson, for which the student is genuinely remorseful.”

To get more details regarding the cookery course please visit the MentorLink website here.

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Cooking Courses News

Hostel residents receive cookery courses

Residents at the Salvation Army hostel in Newcastle have been receiving cookery courses as part of a community initiative backed by Jamie Oliver.

The ten week course has been provided by staff from East End Health and has focus edon teaching the residents the fundamentals of how to cook meals for themselves.

The staff from East End Health have all been on the training courses at the Ministry of Food to enable them to teach simple cookery skills to people who are looking to create meals on a tight budget.

One of the community food trainers explained that the team visit places such as schools, hostels and community centers to teach pensioners, single mums, youngsters and anybody else who is interested, the fundamental skills required to prepare meals for themselves.

East End Health are the only organisation that deliver the Ministry of Food cooking courses in the area and they’re the only orgaisation in the country that provides the training using an outreach model.

One resident, who has been living at the Salvation Army hostel since the spring, was quick to acknowledge the success of the initiative. He explained that as well as enjoying the cookery course, he has learned a great deal and will hopefully have the opportunity to put his knowledge into practice before too long. Another long term resident admitted to finding the course ‘quite relaxing’.

Residents who successfully complete the course will be presented with a certificate which should improve their chances of securing future employment.

A spokesman for the Salvation Army was also pleased with the impact that the cooking courses had made. He explained that they have been really popular with the residents who are learning life skills that they will find really useful when they leave the hostel.

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News

Swindon Council To Consider Takeaway Ban

Swindon Town Council will consider introducing new planning regulations to prevent new fast food outlets from opening within a quarter of a mile of schools in the area.

The motion has been tabled with the intention of reducing the number of children that are overweight in the town. The plan is to help children avoid temptation and curb unhealthy eating habits.

Councillor Dale Heenan will propose that the new policy be introduced at the next planning committee. He explained that his intention is that planning officers will draft a policy that effectively bans fast food outlets from within a certain distance of a school.

Councillor Heenan’s view is that the issue should be debated in an open forum. If planning officers are able to draft a policy then the council would need to consult with residents to investigate whether or not they it is something that they would be willing to support.

If the idea is supported by the planning committee then the aim is for officers to begin work on the policy and report back in the New Year.

He has also suggested that the council should contact celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to ask if they would consider opening restaurants in Swindon, as well as possibly offering pupils healthy cookery courses.

Local GP and chairman of the national FDA, Dr Peter Swinyard explained that it’s really important that children eat a well balanced diet. From a medical perspective, Dr Swinyard supports the aim to reduce the amount of fast food that children consume.

However, a spokesman for the town’s business community claimed that the plan was slightly Draconian. Chris Watts feels that people should be able to make their own decisions about where they eat. His view is that plans such as these don’t address the root cause of the problem and, instead of restricting access; we should be looking more at education.

The Swindon proposal is very similar to a plan considered recently by councillors in Wrexham.

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Cook Books News

Cook books to add to Santa’s List

One of the many reasons people may be put off from joining a cookery school, especially a top-end one which involves interacting with other hopeful chefs, is their perceived lack of knowledge.

This is a barrier which can either stand in your way forever, meaning you never learn to cook like the competition chefs you know you can better on the television, or you can read up about it, so you can at least sound professional when you first enrol.

There are so many cullinary experts, writing in so many niches, it may be difficult to know which suits you best. The only way to find out is dive right in. The Evening Standard has produced a best of list of 2011 cook books. If there’s room in someone’s sack for one more present, perhaps you can point them in this direction…

Get your mince pies around this, for starters.

What can be more festive than a book containing Christmas recipes? For a mere £12.99, of which a portion is being donated to the National Grocers Benevolent Fund, Caravan have published ‘The Ultimate Festive Feast’. As the name suggests, its brimming with seasonal recipes with contributions such as Mary Berry’s chocolate roulade and tit-bits from the Frying Scot himself, Gordon Ramsey.

Spry’s coronation chicken streets ahead

For value for money, £30 will not buy you much more than The Constance Spry Cookery Book. Reprinted again, for the umpteenth time since it was first released in 1956, this encyclopedia of recipes could keep you in the kitchen forever. With a strong Gallic influence, Spry and co-author Rosemary Hume (accreditted with inventing coronation chicken) put together a tome worthy of its half a century plus legacy.

Jamie Oliver gets back to gastro basics

Jamie’s globetrotting menu may not be what you’d expect to see at his parent’s gastropub but, what the heck, it’s Jamie Oliver at his best. Influences from the Yemen, Guyana and the Med may not endorse the Great British Pub Menu, but well worth £30 for Jamie’s Great Britain, from Penguin.

If you’ve ever thought your cullinary expertise could conjure a cook-book then take a leaf from Claire’s Kitchen.

Claire Caminada has taken contemporary recipes and added her own twist to give them a uniqueness you won’t find anywhere else, especially not for less than the £16.95 price-tag for this collection she’s taken from her kitchen into print.

There are many more cook books in the extensive article, including Italian cooking from Alvaro Maccioni, food meets physics when Heston Blumenthal experiments with cooking in a whole new way, choices for those with a sweet tooth in Fiona Cairns’ Cake Book and Vegetarian delights in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day!

You can read the full article here to get you well and truly up to speed and possibly help you in your decision when choosing which cooking course is right for you in 2012.