Newcastle-based chefs Kenny Atkinson and Dave Coulson have taken part in a chef learning event with two school cooks, to highlight National School Meals Week (3-7 November).
School cooks Gail Wyatt and Susan Wright went to work alongside Atkinson and Coulson in a bid to learn practical skills and transferrable advice in how to work in a high-pressure, commercial kitchen environment.
Atkinson and his head chef, Danny Parker, welcomed the cooks at their restaurant House of Tides, while BBC MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Coulson opened the kitchens at his Peace & Loaf restaurant, in Jesmond.
Wyatt is from the East Herrington Primary School in Sunderland, and Wright works at the Bedlingtonshire Community High School in Bedlington, Northumberland. Both recently completed an NVQ Diploma in Food Production and Cooking with apprenticeship provider HIT Training.
The kitchen experience was organised by Simon Liversedge, area manager for Newcastle & Durham, for HIT Training. The event also sought to raise awareness of National School Meals Week, which seeks to highlight the importance of school lunches.
Coulson said: "School lunches are such a great way to help with the healthy development of children, and I just hope the hints, tips and advice both Kenny and I have given these ladies can benefit the children at the two schools where Gail and Susan work."
Atkinson added: "We did not need any persuading to help give these ladies a short glimpse of life in our kitchens. [They] represent the hundreds of school cooks who work hard to prepare, cook and serve thousands of nutritious, well balanced and healthy school meals every day. We were delighted to be able to support that."
National School Meals Week is this year celebrating its 21st anniversary, and comes after months of news coverage on school lunches, which have been in the spotlight recently thanks to the government's universal infant free school meals plan (UNIFSM).
The plan stated that all children up to Year 2 should receive hot, cooked, free meals from September this year.
Other recent initiatives to help improve school meals include the Square's Phil Howard developing a new menu for Cucina (for British Food Fortnight), and the Independent School Food Plan from John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, who were awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award at the 2014 Foodservice Cateys, in recognition of their achievements in the field.