I have some very exciting news! On Monday, Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver, Henry Dimbleby, John Dimbleby Leon and Prince Charles came to visit my lesson and observe me teach……
It was obviously the highlight of my career and quite possibly of my life!
Preparations and practice runs began about three weeks before hand, and there were lots is meetings and discussions about how the day would run. My class had trial cooking sessions and fine tuned their recipes in order to make them perfect for the day.
When the morning arrived, I was confident that we were prepared and ready for our guests. There was a strict timetable with our guests being given different slots, but we were on our best behaviour at all times just incase things didn’t go to plan!
Having met Matt Baker of One Show and Countryfile fame, we had already had a trial run…. It’s just that it happened to be in front of the TV cameras ( gulp!!!). Things went amazingly well, and to plan, and the crew were really impressed with the boys and their cooking so we were on the right track! It was a bit scary when Matt Baker interviewed me though and they stuck a camera in my face ( I’m not really one for pictures, let alone TV ).
Anyway….. In at the crack of dawn Monday morning, getting ingredients ready- I’d been in the day before to get everything else set up! All that was left for me to do was teach and cook with the boys. So off we went, making starters, main courses and desserts.
So, our first visitor of the morning was Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc. He was fantastic….so full of passion and such an inspiration. After lots of kisses on the cheeks, he was off tasting boys food and commenting, suggesting, helping and sharing advice. He was easy going and friendly and agreed to pose for photos too! He was saying how important Food education and cooking is, and commended me on the work that I was doing and the fantastic standard of cooking that was going on in the class.
The second group of visitors were also very important…. They included CEO’s and other “top dogs” from Food For Life, School Food Matters, Organic Society, top supermarkets….. We also had Henry Dimbleby Leon who has been appointed by the Government to review school dinners and John Dimbleby Leon too! It was surreal having more famous chefs in the room! Food was being presented at this stage, and to our surprise, Raymond Blanc returned. He had escaped from his group tour and found his way back to Food where he was handing out samples of the cooked food by the boys and encouraging everyone to try it! This was an honour…. for such an amazing chef to take the time to return and encourage the students and promote their cooking and learning was truly unbelievable.
By now, the classroom was really buzzing- the boys were on a high and cooking for their life! Not long now and Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver would be along…. As the time drew closer, the room turned quieter as the boys started to get a little nervous! I was getting that way too….. Remembering to address the Prince of Wales as your Royal Highness and then having him handed over to you is a big responsibility!!! Not to mention the film crew….
Well as time was drawing near, there was suddenly an onslaught of people into my room- all with long lens cameras and microphones, TV cameras etc. the paps had arrived…. And there was about 15 of them! We ushered them into the corner of the room and knew that HRH and Jamie would be following shortly- along came the butterflies in my tummy, the hot sweating feeling and a sudden urge to goto the loo! Deeeeeep breaths I told myself- in……. And…… Out! They’re here!
I welcomed HRH and Jamie Oliver and the next 15 minutes went past so quickly. I showed the future King of England ( how amazing is that!) around the room, and introduced him to the boys and let them explain what they were cooking. I had a chat with Jamie about Food Education and the importance of cooking as a life skill. I was directed(!) by the film crew and cameras were going twenty to the dozen- flash, flash, flash….. Over here please, Look this way! Wow….. A small insight into the world of celebrity and fame…… What a moment! Matt Baker also returned, so I was also being asked by the crew to talk to Matt in the background shots of HRH touring the classroom ( don’t mind if I do!)
Then after HRH had talked to the boys and viewed their food, it was all over. You could almost feel everyone relax as the VIP’s and film crews left the room. The buzz of excitement was replaced with relief and even disbelief of what we had just experienced. This was most certainly a once in a life time opportunity and one that neither the boys or I will ever forget!
This was such an amazing day, I cannot begin to describe the pride I felt, the excitement, the nerves, the enjoyment! I do know that I was exceptionally privileged to be part of such a momentous day, and I will have these memories, photos and of course, my blog as a reminder of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The coverage of this visit was in lots of local and indeed national papers- you may have seen the photos and articles yourself! Jamie Oliver also mentioned on This Morning saying that “every parent deserved a school like this”. And there is more to come. The film footage is going to be part of a Countryfile episode to be shown sometime in February next year, so watch this space… You may see me on TV!