The Caterer

MPW's plans to improve school meals don't impress the Department for Education

17 October 2011 by
MPW's plans to improve school meals don't impress the Department for Education

Marco Pierre White has drawn up plans to improve the UK's school dinners, but following discussions with Education Secretary Michael Gove, the ideas have been shelved.

The former-Michelin-starred-chef turned Bernard Matthews spokesman met with Gove last year and outlined an initiative that would see professional cooks working with schools and the contractors that supply them, according to

Officials at the Department for Education believed he was planning to involve contract caterers such as Compass Group to work with schools.

A civil service memo about the meeting between White and Gove, said: "One or two primary schools would be chosen to pilot the scheme, as Marco saw it as essential to engender a passion for food at a young age. Working with Sir Roy Gardner, chair of Compass, was recommended by Marco, who has close links with Sir Roy and has discussed this vision with him."

White's plans to involve parents and children in school menus were noted, as well as his ideas for chefs to give masterclasses. He also suggested that costs could be kept down if schools in each area provided the same meals on the same day.

The scheme, which came to light following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, would be rolled out across the UK as part of a five-year plan. A memo read: "Following a year's trial, the chefs of Britain would be called upon to come forward and help promote better-quality school food and cookery skills."

However, e-mails relating to the proposals suggest the Department for Education remained unconvinced that White had any new ideas to offer: "There were no new suggestions that have not already been tried; the proposal was based entirely around inspiring children to develop their palates early, love food and cooking, and to get involved in decisions about their food in school."

Marco Pierre White buys six Maypole Group pubs >>

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By Janie Stamford

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