A week in the life of a school cook
A week in the life of…
…a school cook
School meals are rarely out of the news these days. Whatever your view the fact remains that we rely on school cooks across the country to come up with the goods. But what is it like behind the servery?
Hi. My name is Julie. I work for Warwickshire county caterers serving healthy meals to schools in the Warwickshire area. I worked for the company for four years as a mobile supervisor before gaining my own kitchen. I’ve been here now for a year and love it. I’m fortunate in having a great team of four other ladies. Sandra has been a food services assistant for 33 years, Jane for over 11 years and Michelle (my older sister!) for 4 years.
We try to encourage children to try new recipes and sometimes they even ask for seconds! This is an outline of my week. I hope you enjoy reading what we get up to from Monday to Friday.
Monday – 8.15 start
We only have four for breakfast. That’s low. We put away the frozen foods after delivery and then it’s a look at the day’s menu. It’s a new one for the winter so we’ve not got the hang of it yet. It’s just guess work as to what the children will go for. Bonfire lunch – bangers and mash – went well. We have several Muslim children so we have to remember to order halal sausages for them. Then it’s on to puddings – toffee apple sponge. Surprisingly that didn’t go so well. Popped some in to the secretary. Left at 2.15.
Tuesday – 8.15 start
Eleven for breakfast today. K reminded me that he wanted a packed lunch. We will try anything to get him to eat. Fishfingers and sauté potatoes – the children liked this. Muffin, custard and chocolate whip – what a lot of mess. A big delivery came today and I need to catch up on paperwork so 2.30 finish. Had to pick up son as he’d fallen and hurt his knee – only just had his cast off!
Wednesday 8.15 start
Twelve for breakfast today. Think I might start to put hot chocolate on as it’s too cold for juice. Got the sweet and sour sauce on the go for the chicken. As we transport to two other schools they go out at 11.00 everyday. Daryl our delivery driver transports for us. Chicken on with fish again. Good thing the children like fish. Pudding today was chocolate cracknel and peppermint custard – that brought back memories of my own childhood school dinners. Lots of seconds. Phoned the date and numbers through to the office for Christmas lunch. Can’t think about that – not for a few weeks. K was late for dinner – a good job we saved him one. Finished on time at 2.00.
Thursday 8.15 start
Only nine for breakfast. Got tins ready to cook food in as usual. I have to name them – beans, jacket potatoes etc. as I may get them in the wrong transporting boxes. Jam sponges and custard today. Yes, custard again. Hurray, my delivery company have sent me vegetarian jelly. I’ve only been requesting it for 6 months. Normally we have to say to the Muslim children ‘you can’t have jelly,sorry’ as it contains beef gelatine.
The jelly didn’t set very well – nothing I can do now. Two hundred yorkies. Very messy dinner today, batter and sponge and jam everywhere. 2.15 finish today – very late. K ate all his lunch today. He smiled too.
Friday 8.15 start
Fish and chips today. Just right having fish on a Friday. Our numbers go up especially when chips are on. Made flapjack for pudding. Then on to home made coleslaw. The children have fruit and veg and brown bread every day – so I do those. Pop into my office to do the paper work. Not so much for the end of the week. Have several children not bringing their dinner money. Awful to try and chase this up. Must have a word with the head. It should be no money no dinner – but I can’t do that – maybe I’m too soft?
Julie Jean Checkley is a married mother of three boys, 17, 15 and 12. Julie has always worked as a cook starting with helping her mother cooking Sunday lunches in a busy kitchen. Julie has also worked in retail for eight years and as a delivery driver delivering frozen foods. She joined Warwickshire County Caterers in 2001.
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