Celebrity chefs cheer on Ealing school as it cooks up a storm

Cardinal Wiseman's new kitchen set to become Centre of Excellence

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Celebrity chefs were whisked off to The Cardinal Wiseman School, Greenford, to back its new training kitchen and silver-service restaurant on Friday.

Brian Turner CBE, Richard Shepherd CBE, Antony Worrall Thompson and Gary Rhodes are among the top chefs who have supported the project.

Students served up an array of treats for guests before taking them on guided tours of the kitchen.

The new facility is set to become a West London centre of excellence for food and hospitality, teaching culinary arts to both school students and adults living locally.

It features work space for 20 students, a demonstration area, 10 ovens and cold and dry storage areas. The adjoining silver-service restaurant features tables for 20 diners, a teaching area and notice boards for displaying current industry trends, people profiles and coursework materials.

David Lawrie, the school’s Work Related Learning Manager and honorary fellow at Thames Valley University, has been the driving force behind the project. He said: “We believe this is a national first and we feel very honoured to have the backing of a lot of the top chefs and leading figures in the industry.

“There are so many exciting career opportunities and we want our students to be among the next generation of the industry’s best. Locally, we’re thinking about Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the Olympics and beyond.

“This new resource will offer our students and the community a whole food experience, from growing, sourcing, preparing and cooking, to serving, tasting and enjoying.

“We already grow all of our own fruit and vegetables and this will help us to further promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and eating choices across a range of school subjects, and make good food more appealing than ever before.”

The project has gathered support of a number of other high-profile hospitality experts including Steve Munkley, Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs and Executive Chef at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, Mike Stapleton, Corporate Director of catering firm Compass UK, David Mulcahy, Executive Chef for Sodexho UK, and Cyrus Rustom Todiwala MBE, Executive Chef and Proprietor of Café Spice.

Anthony Worrall Thompson and Gary Rhodes have been actively involved with the school in promoting food and hospitality education and skills and have pledged their support for the new training kitchen and restaurant.

"As you know, I'm concerned about the food education of our young people and am delighted that you have taken this brave step," said Worrall Thompson. "This can only bring great benefits to all concerned - teaching them how to prepare real food and giving them knowledge of a healthier diet."

Gary Rhodes agrees. "I'm delighted with this pioneering step," he said. "Young people will be able to experience real food and learn about the opportunities in this fast growing important industry."

Funding support for the project came from The Edge Foundation, The Savoy Educational Trust, The PM Trust and John Lyon's Charity.

Councillor Ian Gibb, Ealing Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is thrilling to see an Ealing school advancing at the forefront of skills-based education and developing such impressive industry links.

“Hospitality is the fifth biggest employer nationally and the school is providing its students with the very best environment and opportunities to excel in this dynamic industry.”

The facility will be used to deliver Key Stage 4 work related learning - specifically BTEC 1st Diploma in Food - to 14 to 16-year-old students. The silver-service restaurant will initially cater for pupils, staff, parents and school visitors only but there are plans to open to the public.

The Cardinal Wiseman School, a Roman Catholic school, already has an impressive food and hospitality record. It joined Thames Valley University’s Junior Chefs Academy five years ago and its partnership with the university’s London School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure has fast-tracked students into further education courses.

The new training kitchen will be a satellite base for the Junior Chefs Academy programme, extending skills-based learning opportunities to greater numbers of students in West London. A pilot project with Hillingdon schools will commence this summer.

Meanwhile, the school grows all its own fruit and vegetables via the Manor Market Garden project and is registered with the Soil Association as a candidate for regional centre status. It has also received recycling awards and is working to achieve Eco-School status.

April 4, 2007