School cook trades child-friendly meals for tea and cake

Carole Read, a primary school cook, got the chance to work alongside chefs at The Assembly House

Carole Read, a primary school cook, got the chance to work alongside chefs at The Assembly House - Credit: Archant

From pasta bakes to cream teas at The Assembly House, primary school cook Carole Read is trying her hand at a whole new type of cooking for a day in honour of National School Meals Week.

Carole Read assembles cream teas at The Assembly House

Carole Read assembles cream teas at The Assembly House - Credit: Archant

Ms Read is the cook manager at Millfield Primary School in North Walsham, with experience working in 14 different school kitchens. But catering to the needs of customers at The Assembly House yesterday proved to be a bit different.

The restaurant serves thousands of afternoon teas a week and working in a commercial kitchen environment presents other challenges. Ms Read worked as an assistant alongside Richard Hughes, chef director of the AH, and Mark Mitson, pastry chef, thanks to a partnership with Norse Catering.

'I usually do all the cooking myself and I'm an assistant today so this is much different. I'm used to cooking for about 100 kids a day - completely controlling everything that goes in and out,' she said.

This past week, school cooks have been placed in various fine dining establishments to cook and prepare food alongside chefs. The concept behind the initiative is to help change perceptions of school meals in Norfolk and demonstrate how far school catering has come in recent years.


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Ms Read, for one, appreciated the change of scenery.

'It's quite nice having this role actually. The whole staff is helping me and it's nice to have a knowledge of food and cooking. It's also nice because it's not all on me, there's not as much pressure as there is for me in the school kitchen,' she said.

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She also realized that what matters more than the type of kitchen environment or food served, is being able to present customers with the best meals possible.

'At Millfield I don't make incredibly fancy food, it's everything from pasta bakes to pies to meatballs. It's child-friendly meals. If you're making fancier food it's the same, though, you have to keep up the same quality no matter where you are,' she said.

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