Chefs in Schools & Dinerama at Lampton School this June

Chefs in Schools, the charity whose goal is to transform the food in 100 UK schools within 5 years, is launching their Secondary School offering with a festival of street food, in collaboration with Dinerama.

Despite years of high-profile campaigning, the food in our schools is still boring, bland, beige – and bad for our kids. Chefs in Schools, the charity launched last year by Henry Dimbleby and Thomasina Miers, Louise Nichols and Nicole Pisani, has kicked off its secondary school initiative by taking on high street food offerings with a Street Feast menu in the school grounds.

The campaign is spearheaded by David Darmanin, the new Executive Chef at Lampton School, the power behind the all this great change. David has previously had his own street food business along with a great history of restaurant background. The menu he is rolling out at the school involves chicken lollipops with corn salad, Lamb Koftas with a skinny slaw and jerk chicken burgers.

And it’s not just the menus that have had a complete overhaul – part of the playground outside has had a makeover by graffiti artist Benedict Siddle.

Nicole Pisani, co-founder and Executive Chef of the charity says, ‘You can’t just tell kids to eat food because it’s “good or healthy for them”. Our approach is to serve the students as customers, to look at what they want from their lunch. Focusing on what is important to them is as vital as serving them food we want them to eat.

‘We understand that food needs to look and taste great, be environmentally conscious, help them be focused and sustain their energy levels. We try to provide a happy and attractive environment in which they can socialise and eat together.’

Pisani adds, ‘Teenagers have the option to spend their money on cheap high-street food that is nutritionally deficient – we need to compete with that. For many kids, fried chicken shops are acting as the new social youth clubs, so we have opened a Street Feast section in the playground to give them a place to hang out. Chef David has also created a sandwich bar giving kids a great option for the sort of ‘Grab ‘n’ Go’ sandwich box (sandwich and choice of two salads) that appeals to them.’

The main difference with these menu items is that the food is made from scratch using fresh ingredients – in this way students can learn that real food can be great food. ‘Once they learn to trust our food, we’ll be able to work with them on other levels, including the ‘Ban the Beige’ break-time food campaign,’ says Pisani.

David Darmanin, executive chef/food educator of Lampton School adds “Having come from the deep end of the industry, I’m finding this new environment a very exciting learning process. The kitchen here is now run by a great mix of chefs coming from both restaurants and schools and it keeps surprising me how well everyone is getting along. There are positive vibes and hi-fives every day in the kitchen and it seems like everyone is pushing a bit harder every day. Fresh ingredients, recipes from scratch, a newly equipped kitchen and immeasurable support from non-kitchen staff surely helps to keep us motivated. I like to think that this mood is rubbing off on the food as the kids here seem to be really enjoying the new menu!”

Events of the Week.
Every day, 10-14 June, there’s a rolling menu of Street Food trucks from London’s trendy Dinerama. The list includes White Men Can’t Jerk, Yum Buns, Born and Raised, Growlers and Raclette Brothers. Students will be able to spend their lunch money at any of the street food trucks, or at the School’s own Street Feast offerings.

More than just Cool Food: Talks & Workshops
Alongside the pop up food trucks sits a schedule of supporting events to address important topics such as food waste and environmental awareness, with talks and workshops in collaboration with amazing companies such as Rubies in the Rubble, Tickles Pickles, Rude Health and Daring Foods. All wanting to help- all wanting to be part of this cultural change.