Emma Crowhurst: Won’t cook can cook

Year eight students from three Suffolk schools who cooked a celebration lunch

Year eight students from three Suffolk schools who cooked a celebration lunch - Credit: Archant

Emma Crowhurst, chef, writer, cookery teacher

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to be invited to a celebration lunch cooked by year eight students from three Suffolk schools. Helped by one of my favourite chefs, Jason Shaw from the White Lion Hotel Aldeburgh, they cooked a three course Christmas meal of their own design.

The cookery project has been running for a year. Each term 12 lucky students aged 12 to 13 from Alde Valley School (Leiston), Bungay High School and Sir John Leman High School (Beccles) spent six separate days on the project.

Previous groups designed, planned, cooked and delivered a two course meal for 20 pensioners. The students had input from Age UK Suffolk about the dietary needs of the guests and had to take these into consideration when planning the meal.

This last group had a different target audience and a more celebratory brief. All the head teachers from the schools and those involved in the project enjoyed a delicious starter of soup and homemade bread, a main course of pork with cider sauce and super veggies, and a pudding of some very professional brandy snap baskets with ice cream they had made during a previous session, accompanied by a zingy raspberry coulis and some popping candy!

The students cooked and served our food and were confident and cheerful - a skill some grown up waiters could learn from. They talked to us while serving and their ‘people’ skills proved excellent.

The hoped for learning outcomes were an increased awareness of careers within the hospitality industry, general culinary skills, an increase in self confidence and the development of employability skills - teamwork, communication, initiative and more.

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The students also spent a day at The White Lion - half of it in the kitchen and half with the front of house staff learning about service, laying tables and folding napkins. Another afternoon was spent with a member of the school IT staff designing the menus and invitations.

Saxmundham Waitrose gave some sponsorship towards the cost of the food. The main funding was from County, Raising the Participation Age (RPA) funding.

Alde Valley School was the lead school on the project but all three schools worked closely together as they have on a number of projects.

Speaking to the children after they had finished and were enjoying some of the food they had cooked, it was all smiles and red faces. They enthused about their experience, thrilled to have been involved and all promising to cook at home. Jason Shaw’s tireless passion for sharing his knowledge and skills really had left its mark on these chefs of the future.