New school chef bakes cake for Prince Charles
2018 LACA School Chef of the Year
Michael was invited to be involved in the creation of the special cake after winning the 2018 Lead Association for Catering in Education School Chef of the Year Award – the first time in the award’s 20-year year history that a man has clinched the prize. Contestants were given an hour-and-a-half to prepare a balanced, two-course meal that would appeal to 11-year-olds, while spending a maximum of £1.30. He served the judges oven baked, Southern crumbed chicken with herb mousseline, gnocchi and vegetables followed by coconut cheesecake with pineapple and strawberry compote and a tuile biscuit.
We caught up with Michael to ask him a few questions:
What attracted you to becoming a School Chef?
As a chef and parent, I am passionate about children eating healthy and nutritious food at school, as this is fundamental to their health and wellbeing and has a positive effect on their ability to learn. I knew that the only way to make a difference was to work in schools themselves, and it’s a job that I enjoy immensely.
What are you most looking forward to in your role as Duncombe’s new Chef Manager?
Duncombe is a great school with a fantastic reputation, and I’m looking forward to working with an amazing team of people from Thomas Franks Catering who already do a fantastic job at creating exciting and nutritious meals for the children.
What do you think that children should be eating more of?
Children should certainly be eating lots more fruit and vegetables. A snack of some apple and cucumber and sticks and a handful of raisins for example, is healthy and cheap.
What should children be eating less of?
Definitely less sugar and less fatty foods. Children learn by example, and so we need to be the change that we want to see in our children.
Do you have a philosophy for healthy eating?
Everything is acceptable just moderation is they key…we all like a little treat once in a while.
Do you have any tips for parents who are struggling to get their children to eat fruit/vegetables?
Make food fun, colourful and exciting and don’t be scared to try new foods. Also, make sure that you persevere. Children change their minds and go through phases, so you might just find that one day, they decide that they actually do like carrots after all!
What is your memory of school lunches from when you were a child?
I think I was very lucky to have a great school lunches when I was growing up. I remember it was always good home cooked food like stew and dumplings – filling and nutritious.
Have you got a signature dish? Can we have the recipe?
I love to make Indian and Mexican street food, so here’s a great recipe for a vegetarian Mexican dish which ticks all the boxes for colour, freshness and flavour.
- 2 mixed-colour peppers
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 3 ripe tomatoes , on the vine
- 6 spring onions
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- 2 limes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 corn tortillas
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- Chipotle Tabasco sauce (optional)
- 1 x 400g tin of black beans
- 1 ripe avocado
- 20 g feta cheese
- Place the oven on to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
- Place a griddle pan over a high heat and cook the whole peppers, chilli, tomatoes and trimmed spring onions until soft and charred.
- Put the peppers and chilli in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Dice the tomatoes and spring onions, then add to another bowl. Peel, deseed and dice the peppers and chillies, then add to the tomatoes and spring onions.
- Pick in a few coriander leaves, season, then mix in a good squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of oil. Wipe the griddle pan and return to the heat.
- Cut the tortillas into wedges and arrange over two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden.
- Place a large frying pan over a high heat and toast the cumin seeds for a few seconds. Add the Tabasco sauce and beans and cook for a few minutes, or until thick, stirring occasionally.
- Peel, destone and slice the avocado into wedges, then drizzle with the remaining lime juice.
- Arrange the tortillas in a bowl. Top with the beans, salsa, dressed avocado, feta and some chopped coriander, then serve.
Published on: 15th November 2018