An Asian-inspired dish of mung beans and lentils helped Felsted chef Brenden Eades to secure the title of East of England School Chef of the Year at the recent regional final of the competition run by LACA (Local Authority Caterers Association).
Brenden was pitted against two other school chefs to win a place in the competition’s national final, to be held in July at the annual Main Event of LACA, the professional body representing school caterers across state and independent education in the UK.
He impressed the judges at the regional final in St Albans with his high-protein school lunch of panchrangi dal, accompanied by a bhaji rosti and crisp chapati wrap, followed by a traditional gooseberry fool, enlivened by a citrus jelly top and cherry bottom.
‘The key to school food is to make sure you are not only providing a healthy, balanced meal, but also that you are complimenting the education the pupils are receiving in the classroom,’ said Brenden, who has worked at Felsted, a co-educational independent boarding and day school in north Essex, since 2019.
Head Chris Townsend added: ‘Giving young people the chance to taste the cuisines of other cultures helps to broaden their horizons and take them out of their comfort zones. At Felsted, international dishes are on the menu every day of the term, without a big fanfare or any kind of stereotyping, just so they can try something new and develop their taste buds and their awareness of the foods eaten by others all around the world.’
Chef Brenden is an advocate of the school’s drive for sustainability and has implemented a food waste initiative, involving the catering team working alongside students to plan, monitor and review the food waste produced at Felsted and putting procedures in place to reduce it. This initiative has helped reduce Felsted’s food waste by 27.7%. Learn more about environmentally sustainable, healthy eating at Felsted School here.
The winner of the national final of School Chef of the Year will take part in a study tour of Germany, organised by LACA.