I am passionate about instilling a knowledge and love of cooking from a young age.
Cooking quality, healthy food is one of life’s great pleasures as well as an essential skill safeguarding the health and well-being of future generations.
I am immensely impressed by the ingenuity and imagination of schools that have taken part in British Food Fortnight over the years. I have hugely enjoyed meeting some of the teachers and their pupils that have participated, and seeing – and tasting – some of the very wonderful dishes they have cooked during the national food celebrations.
Last year I invited two of the winning schools to take over the kitchens in Clarence House for the day; the first time young people have ever been allowed to do so! With the help of the Hairy Bikers, two of my favourite celebrity chefs, they rustled up the most magnificent lunch celebrating food that would have been cooked in their part of the country by previous generations.
This year schools are being given the historic opportunity to win the chance to ‘Cook for The Queen’ at Buckingham Palace. This is my special tribute to Her Majesty The Queen for the Diamond Jubilee and I am looking forward enormously to seeing the menu ideas and recipes that schools create for what will be a very special occasion.
Giving young people the skills they need to cook for themselves is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. If they do not learn about cooking as a child, it becomes increasingly challenging as they grow into adulthood, with the pressures of work and family.
I have always loved food and really enjoy cooking simple dishes with British ingredients.
A love of food is something that runs in my family. My grandfather was P. Morton Shand, a famous food writer, and his mantle, I’m delighted to say, has now been taken on by my son, Tom.
Teaching young people about seasonality, provenance and how to cook are essential life skills that will enable them to feed themselves as they go into adulthood and give them the knowledge and understanding they need to buy, cook and enjoy healthy, quality food with their families and friends.
British food has been woefully under-rated for years, seen, wrongly, as some sort of international culinary joke. Dull, turgid and over-boiled, they grin, across the globe. Utter rubbish, I say!
Our temperature climate ensures rich, verdant pastures, which in turn lead to wonderful butters,
creams and a profusion of exquisite cheeses. It also helps feed our native breeds of pig, cow, sheep and chicken. The best of our ingredients, from our farmers, are second to none. Puddings, beers, ciders and roasts ... We’re master of these arts.
And a tradition of multiculturalism has given British food a truly global aspect too. The chicken tikka masala, although unheard of in India, is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
I’m a passionate believer in great British food, not at the expense of the cuisine of other countries, but alongside them. And I am so pleased to have had the chance to see for myself the excellent initiatives being organized in schools across the country through British Food Fortnight.