School Food Goes ‘Foodie’

Providing pupils with tasty and healthy lunches is no easy task for most schools. As a boarding school, the Royal Alexandra and Albert School has an even greater challenge, providing three meals a day for up to 1000 hungry children and teenagers.

This week, Barny Cross, the School’s Executive Chef Manager, has unveiled a brand new set of menus that is hoped will prove a success with pupils. The menus have been designed to not only be healthy but to also be delicious and exciting.

For example, on one Tuesday, pupils will be treated to a French inspired lunch with a choice of Coq au Vin with shallots and garlic or Beef Bourguignon with roasted celeriac. For vegetarians, there is the option of root vegetable Cassolet with roasted garlic. Dessert is a plum Clafoutis. Other lunches will focus on familiar English fare like cottage pie, exotic Indian food including a chickpea Chana Masala, a taste of Caribbean cuisine with Jamaican beef curry, and a venture into traditional Scottish food with a vegetarian haggis.

In the evenings, boarders will have an even greater choice of meals to pick from. Each night has been given a theme, including Cockney East End Night, Chinese Banquet, and It’s All Greek To Me Night. Meals will range from Beef Stiffado and traditional meat pies to Cantonese style chicken and Moroccan spiced white fish stew.

Barny, who works for the School’s caterers, Harrison Catering Services Ltd, explains the idea behind the new menus, “The new menus are definitely more “foodie” than before. We hope they strike a good balance between stretching pupils’ palates and offering them the option of eating meals they will enjoy and feel comfortable with.”

Although the new menus have been made to wow pupils and staff, their nutritional value is paramount. The new menus have been vetted by a nutritionist who was involved with the National Legislation for School Food Standards, which the School meets.

Barny said, “The old menus were good but these new menus will ensure that pupils eat more vegetables. For example, our Chili Con Carne now has more carrots than before. We want pupils to make smart food choices independently; however, we need to remember that some won’t and that we need to give them a little nudge.”

So far the new meals have been given the thumbs up. The School’s Food Committee, which is made up of representatives from all of the School’s boarding houses, were impressed with all the options available.

Adam Woolcock, Food Committee member and Year 10 boarder, said, “The menus look fantastic, lots of different and exciting foods to try!”

The new menus are also a way to create a higher level of interaction and engagement between pupils and the catering department. This will ensure that pupils not only have access to healthy food but have the opportunity to learn about nutrition and gain important food skills.

Barny is planning a range of activities for the future which will encourage pupils to get stuck in with food preparation. Plans are being put together for the School’s chefs to go into the boarding houses to provide cooking demonstrations and prepare meals with pupils. Other ideas for events include blind tasting sessions and a whole school Master Chef style event.

Headmaster Paul Spencer Ellis is delighted with the innovative lunches and dinners. “The School has a duty to provide pupils with healthy meals but that certainly doesn’t mean that they have to be boring! The new menus created by Harrison are fantastic, and I’m certain they will widen our pupils’ food horizons.”

3rd June 2015

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