13 cooks reach a milestone (and write a charter...)

We've just wrapped up our second training programme for care home cooks from the Milestones Trust. 

During the course of this ten week programme we have cooked some 28 dishes, from soups to souffles and lentil and bean fritters to spiced chicken wings, used hundreds of fabulous ingredients, had a seminar on the Food For Life Catering Mark Standard, visited an organic grower, washed dirty vegetables, washed up, burnt things, jointed chickens, picked herbs, eaten lunch, dozed off, drunk coffee, tea and even wine.

A collection of moments captured during the programme. 

A collection of moments captured during the programme. 

But maybe the most important thing we did was talk. And it was the debates and discussions which led the programme through all its changes and challenges. There were times at the beginning when I think people wondered why on earth they were on the course. So much to learn, so little time to learn it. Too many obstacles. And we kept coming back to the big questions of time, knowledge, resources, complex and differing demands of residents, support from management…

But out of the debates and discussions and along with the chopping and cooking, came the learning. The reasons for being on the course became clearer, confidence and purpose grew; there was method in the madness.

And in the end what we were really talking about was not so much knife skills or techniques or budgets or food safety but about a different approach to food and cooking. And how these different principles could be applied in practice in our own kitchens and what the next steps towards making a real difference might be.

Which is where the cooks charter came from….

The Milestones Home Cooks Charter

This is the idea we discussed for the group to set certain standards within their own kitchens which would be in line both with the Milestones Trust Food Policy and The Food For Life Catering Mark Standard. 

  1. All food and drink ingredients used in the kitchen to meet the FFLP Bronze Catering 
  2. Organic Sunday Lunch  (once a month) 
  3. Milk: 20% Organic milk
  4. Bread: one day a week home-made bread
  5. Vegetables: 20% organic
  6. Eggs: 100% free-range eggs
  7. Fish: always MSC approved fish
  8. All meat & poultry Red Tractor as standard (ie always traceable to the farm, assurance of high standards of animal welfare etc) 
  9. 20% meat and poultry free-range or organic

We're still a way from reaching some of these targets but to have got this far is to have reached a milestone. Our next cohort of cooks arrives later this year and we're already excited. For more information about the Milestones Trust, click here. Or, to find out more about the professional training that Square Food has to offer, click here.