While at Grimsby, Mick Cooper was the first person to set up a Junior Chef Saturday morning club (as far as I am aware). It was so successful, and he was so willing to share best practice, that at a national heads of catering conference he shared the information.
Here at Thanet College, I started up such a scheme in September 2000. This has gone from strength to strength and we now have an 11- to 13-year-old group, a 14- to 16-year-old group and a Junior Chef 2 level group.
With Mick's support, I then developed a National Junior Chef competition sponsored by P&O Ferries and judged by Gary Rhodes. This competition attracts around 100 entrants and is mailed to 450 colleges.
It is great that Compass and other big boys are getting involved with such initiatives - we are all committed to getting food back on the curriculum. We have students at Thanet who have come through Junior Chef and are working in Michelin-starred restaurants.
I hope this gives you a small picture of what we have done here at Thanet, and in particular what Mick Cooper has done for a number of years.
Head of hotel and catering, Thanet College
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