The industry’s great and good gathered at St George’s Primary School in London’s Mayfair today, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Academy of Culinary Arts’ Chefs Adopt a School programme.
Roy Ackerman, Heston Blumenthal, Willy Bauer, Brian Turner, Albert Roux, Raymond Blanc, Gary Rhodes, William Curley, Andre Garrett, Robin Hutson, Harry Murray, Ramon Pajares, Alain Roux, Richard Shepherd, John Williams and Cyrus Todiwala were just some of the personalities on hand, as The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall sat in on Chefs Adopt a School sessions by Thames Valley University lecturer, Michael Coaker and Chefs Adopt a School’s Idris Caldora.
Chefs Adopt a School was founded in 1990 to encourage school leavers to consider a career in the hospitality industry. It was immediately apparent that the level of children’s food and cookery knowledge at secondary school age was lamentably poor. The Academy decided that to make a real difference, they needed to focus on a younger age group. A programme was developed to engage, educate, inspire and equip primary aged children with the vital life skills of practical cookery and food knowledge – from plant to plate. Lessons were created to deliver workshops to children in schools that had no cooking facilities.
Today, the programme reaches 21,000 children annually. Now the Academy is looking to reach out to the remaining 4.5 million primary school children across the UK.
Speaking at the event, chef and Academy of Culinary Arts President, Brian Turner called the scheme’s plant-to-plate food education “transformational – it’s a force for good and teaches children life skills”.
The Prince of Wales called Chefs Adopt a School “a brilliant idea”.
“Food is related to ourentire cultural heritage”, he said, “and we must find a way of reconnecting children to our food, culture and seasons”.