Cooking up new skills


Through conversations with residents it became clear that many in Newington struggle to provide healthy food for their families, especially on limited budgets. The Community Chef project was founded in 2008 to improve health outcomes on the Isle of Sheppey and was employed by Newington’s neighbourhood committee, to deliver similar benefits in Estate.

Part of the Community Chef Project is to encourage people and equip them with the skills to be able to consider employment in catering. Residents are also involved in “Train the Trainer” activities to pass learning on to others in the community, making the project sustainable long term. Feedback from participants showed very strongly that the skills taught are useful in daily life; that residents increased in confidence; that the shared activities helped community cohesion and the mobile kitchen events helped to raise the profile of Newington as a positive place.

Residents and students from Marlow Academy took part in CV writing and interview practice skills before learning practical cooking techniques. They prepared, cooked and served two enormous paellas to staff and pupils at the Academy. In addition, they produced five curries for a Curry Night, preparing and using fresh ingredients, following recipes and working together as a team. They also took the Community Chef mobile kitchen to outside The Spar supermarket in Newington where they prepared and served spicy vegetable soup.

The Mobile Kitchen also headed to Thanet Farmers Market where a team cooked up root vegetable soup, three types of tortilla and dessert paella and handed it out to visitors and stallholders. This was followed by successful trips to the Ignite Food Bank, Broadstairs Food Festival, and Margate Food and Beer Festival.

Over time, residents were given more autonomy over the food preparation and customer servicing until they eventually ran the whole event themselves without, Community Chef being present.

ProjectCara Thorpe