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Posted on April 25, 2018
Top chef turned inspirational school cook; a vision of zero waste packaging solutions and the artisan bakery in a Glasgow maximum security prison offering inmates a way out of a life of crime are just some of the topics of interest on the menu at this year’s Food for Thought series of food lectures hosted by The School of Artisan Food in the heart of the historic Welbeck Estate.
Freedom Bakery, founded by Matt Fountain three years ago, has grown to become one of the most respected bakeries in the West of Scotland supplying over 60 restaurants, cafes and delis. ‘Breaking Bread’ will hear Matt tell his story of the artisan bakery started inside HMP Low Moss near Glasgow where inmates were trained under the supervision of professional bakers to learn new skills, gain confidence and make a high-quality product that people would buy.
Named Young Alumnus of the Year by University of Glasgow, Matt said at the time, a bakery was an obvious choice. “There is a social aspect to food that has always appealed to me. Then there’s the psychological side. A high proportion of people in custody have mental health problems. Kneading dough has been proved to be therapeutic. Bakeries are calm places, not as stressful as a chef’s kitchen, for example, and that too has beneficial effects. In this scenario the process of training in work is synonymous with the achievement of one’s own personal goals.”
With the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, Dan Saladino, on hand to ask the pertinent questions of the leaders of the food world, the two days of food lectures held at The School of Artisan Food promise to serve up a fascinating insight into many of the key food-related issues of the day.
Alison Swan Parente, the School’s founder, will be in conversation with Nisha Katona, fellow judge on the BBC2’s newest food show Top of the Shop. Together with Tom Kerridge they are searching for the nation’s best kitchen table artisan food producers. Self proclaimed ‘curry evangelist’ Nisha, founder of Mowgli Street Food, who gave up her job as a barrister to follow her passion for Indian food, will share her experience of appearing on the show and the importance of following your dreams.
Alison, who was awarded an MBE last year for her dedication to charity and education, said: “Food plays a central role in society. It’s at the heart of families, communities and cultures. At Food for Thought, we explore the issues surrounding the growing, production and consumption of food and hear about some groundbreaking initiatives taking place in schools and prisons. I’m also delighted to be joined by my fellow Top of the Shop judge Nisha, but we won’t be giving away any clues to our artisan winners just yet.”
Nicole Pisani, who gave up her job as a top chef in a Yotam Ottolenghi restaurant to become a school cook at a Hackney primary school, is hoping to inspire other chefs to follow her lead. Having re-trained the school cooks and introduced a restaurant style operation to the kitchen with impressive results, she has now founded a new charity - Chefs in Schools - which aims to recruit restaurant-trained leading chefs to work in state schools.
Food and farming post Brexit is one of the meaty issues being addressed by Patrick Holden, who founded the Sustainable Food Trust in 2011 in response to the worsening human and environmental crises associated with the vast majority of today’s food and farming systems.
The founder of Hodmedod’s, provider of British grown pulses and grains, and winner of Best Food Producer BBC Food And Farming Awards, will tell the story of the company set up in 2012 and why crop diversity is important. Josiah Meldrum will explain how they are interested in searching out less well-known foods, like the fava bean – grown in Britain since the Iron Age but now almost forgotten – and black badger peas.
How chocolate can be a vehicle for social change will be explored by journalist Simran Sethi, an educator focused on food, sustainability and social change. She is also the author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love which tells the story of changes in food and agriculture through food, and was named one of the best food books of 2016 by Smithsonian.
Catherine Conway, director of Unpackaged, a company committed to finding zero waste solutions with a vision of stripping the world of unnecessary packaging for all food and household goods, will no doubt talk of its latest customer to introduce the system - The Welbeck Farm Shop.
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