A fresh approach to feeding young minds
PUBLISHED: 17:33 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 23 November 2018
Four school cooks were given the chance to work alongside some of the county’s best chefs last week to celebrate National School Meals Week. The cooks, who all work for Norse Catering, swapped the canteen for top restaurants to help change perceptions of school meals in our region and demonstrate how far school catering has come in recent years.
“Norse cooks are seriously talented cooks in their own right and to create a fantastic experience for them we sent them to the best restaurants across the region,” said Norse operations director Andrew Lipscomb. “They joined the teams at Warwick St Social, at Socius in Burnham Market, Brasted’s in Framingham Pigot and at Benedicts in Norwich, to prepare and cook meals for their discerning paying customers.”
Emma Grumbt, from Antingham and Southrepps Primary School, went to Warwick St Social to work alongside chef patron Daniel Smith and his team.
“What a day! What an experience! So much enthusiasm, passion and love given to their food by the chefs,” said Emma. “One highlight (too many to mention them all) was making the honeycomb parfait for their dessert menu with Tom. Daniel and Alex were so attentive, showing and explaining to me their cooking techniques and I was sampling so much wonderful food. The day was so memorable I can’t stop talking about it!”
Daniel, who also runs The Wildebeest and Ingham Swan, added: “It’s so important that children can have the opportunity of a wholesome midday meal at school, trying new things and sharing that experience with others, helping to develop what will hopefully be a lifelong interest in what’s on their plate, and it was such a pleasure to have Emma join the team in the kitchen at Warwick St Social.”
Amanda Taylor, from Pulham Primary, headed to Brasteds for her special shift. “What an amazing opportunity to witness fine dining at its very best at the locally renowned Brasteds restaurant,” she said. “I was made to feel very welcome by Chris (Buzz) and his amazing team of talented chefs, George and Meg. They showed me how these stunning dishes are cooked and presented. I left wanting to learn more!”
This is the fourth year that the initiative has run and is supported by Norfolk Food and Drink, which has helped to build the relationships between Norse and the restaurants, including newcomers for this year, Socius, who welcomed Annalisa Grief, from West Winch Primary School.
Natalie Stuhler, operations director at Socius said: “Being involved with National School Meals Week was a fantastic and rewarding opportunity that we wouldn’t hesitate to get involved with again. The school chef that came to work with us was so passionate and professional and I think we both got so much out of the experience!”
Annalisa will no doubt use the experience to help her next week, when she competes in the regional finals of School Chef of the Year 2019.
The final school cook was Barbara Dawson, from St Michael’s Junior School, who went to Benedicts to learn from well-known local chef Richard Bainbridge.
A new twist on Norse’s National School Meal Week 2018 celebrations included sharing recipe cards from each of the top chefs with local schools which, in turn, they shared with their parents and wider school community. The recipes were the chefs’ own take on their favourite school desserts such as cornflake tart, sticky toffee pudding and jam sponge with custard. These are available on the blog page of Norse Catering’s website – www.norsecatering.co.uk.
“We are really proud of the positive work going on in our schools and we want to tell people about it, even if they do not have children at school,” Andrew Lipscomb concluded. “Norse provides almost four million meals a year across 250 Norfolk and Suffolk schools – feeding the minds of the next generation.”