School Meals Are Being Reinvented By Restaurant Chefs

Top chefs from around the UK are helping to transform school meals in deprived areas, cooking up food that is nutritious, fresh and most importantly, fun.

Co-Founder of the Chefs in School charity, Nicole Pisani says, “Food can either be medicine or it can be poison”. They aim to take school meals to the next level and teach children how to cool.

Pisani quit her job as a head chef at one of London’s most exclusive restaurants; Soho’s Nopi to become a school chef at Gayhurst community school in Hackney.

She said, “The reason I fell in love with food was to see people enjoy it and to feel like you’re connecting with someone because you’ve cooked for them, but the longer you spend in restaurants, the less of that good feeling you get.”

This career move than many would deem a step backwards has paid off and around three years ago Pisani and friend Naomi Duncan set up Chefs in Schools. Since its launch, they have trained chefs in 44 different schools throughout the UK, the majority of them in socially deprived areas feeding 16,000 children every day and even teaching them how to cook.

Pisani shared “Cooking with children is what I love most, you turn into a five-year-old yourself. It’s hard not to be happy.” She was blown away by how enthusiastic the kids were when she first started cooking banana splits and beetroot brownies.

“They were literally excited about grating cheese, they loved going up and down the grater. I thought: ‘This is a lost workforce’.”

Thomas Walker, the school’s food educator head said “It’s really important that people know how to cook, It’s an act of ownership in your life because it helps your health and makes you feel good.”

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