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Celebrity chef saves the day

Simon Rimmer launches UK campaign at West Derby Comp to rescue generation who can't boil an egg

Published on June 2nd 2010.

Celebrity chef saves the day

TV CHEF Simon Rimmer has launched a national campaign in Liverpool aimed at rescuing a lost generation of parents who have no idea how to cook.

Focusing on 13-14 year olds and their families, Wirral-born Rimmer, who owns the award winning Greens vegetarian restaurant in Altrincham, hopes to drive home the importance of quality meals cooked from scratch, and the fun there is to be had in making them, in the hope that their mums and dads will adopt the same mentality.

Simon, who is a self-taught chef, said: "In the UK we have a generation of adults who basically cannot cook. And they have never been taught to cook.

“As a result, the social side linked with eating has disappeared. Human beings are social animals and the social side of food - eating and sitting around a table talking about the day - is very important. It's the glue in every family."

He added: "Jamie Oliver ran a great project trying to encourage schools to provide healthier lunches, but if children are coming home from school and their parents can't cook - or have no interest in feeding them proper food - how is anything going to change?"

According to Simon, the blame can be placed upon the rise in popularity of convenience food and the decades long absence of cookery lessons on the schools curriculum, as well as long working hours for parents.

To kick off this initiative, Simon turned up at West Derby Comprehensive, on Queens Drive, to speak to the kids. This school is a good starting point as it is teaching cookery for the first time, from September, in a single shiny new building with huge, open plan kitchens.

At assembly, In between questions from pupils eager to know how many celebrities he had served, Simon explained the brief of the project being run by School Cooks, in association with eatthechef.com.

Students will be able to post videos of themselves cooking - a la Nigella Lawson etc - then must publicise their video in the hope that they are voted to represent the school.

Organisers stress that all videos will be put through filters,both computerised and human, to ensure no sensitive information is released. The contest will run until April next year, when regional winners will be selected.

As Simon told the children: "This is about cookery, but its more - you're stealing my job really."

The two winning young chefs from each of the six regions will be entered into the national cook off final in Speke, next year, where there is a chance to win £10,000... of cookery equipment for their school. They will also recieve a cookery master class from Simon himself.

As well as launching the search for a new cookery star, School Cooks will be offering any school that takes part a set of complete lesson plans with resources, drawn up to fit in with the Key Stage 3 Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) curriculum.

Eatthechef.com is the first website to be completely made up of video recipes sent in my the public and has hundreds of demonstrations, ranging from simple sauces to full blown Michelin-standard dishes.

And Simon's tip to any budding chefs out there: "Just have a go. You only need a smal repertoire of recipes to start off. Focus on getting a few to perfection. Don't try to be too complicated or ambitious. Be very simpathetic to the ingredients you have. And if you make a mistake, don't worry. Its all part of learning to cook."

So, keep it simple, focused, and understand the carrots' pain - got it.

Full competition details and PSHE lesson plans can be found on www.schoolcooks.co.uk

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