Students learn to love cooking

New idea: Students cook at the Food-i project at Cellar Space
New idea: Students cook at the Food-i project at Cellar Space
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An old pub kitchen will soon be feeding the bank accounts of a charity working to turn around the lives of disruptive kids.

Under the guidance of trained caterers, troubled young people who meet at the old Furnival pub in Burngreave will be cooking up healthy and appetising ready-meals for the public to take home for tea.

foodijd'students cook at the Foodi project at cellar space

foodijd'students cook at the Foodi project at cellar space

Food-i’s hand-made lasagnes, casseroles and tagines will cost £4 each and all profits are ploughed back into Cellar Space, a charity providing 11-16 year-olds in trouble at school with a safe place to learn and develop.

The project has been running for the last 13 years at the former Verdon Street pub.

Its youth workers found teaching the 24 young people who meet there each day how to cook had a hugely positive effect. And now their meal-making sessions are about to go commercial.

Explains centre manager Ben Harper, 33: “Cellar Space is a charity which gives young people either excluded from school or at risk of being excluded a fresh opportunity to build up their self-esteem and find their strengths.

“Cooking is really therapeutic and a very nurturing process for them.

“It’s also a very satisfying one. You can go from scratch to a finished product in half an hour and then enjoy the fruits of your efforts,” says Ben.

“We decided to take things a step further and really make use of the fantastic pub kitchens we had at our disposal.”

Each Monday and Tuesday two groups of young people will be chopping, slicing and dicing to create pop-in-the-oven, freshly-made Food-i meals.

Project managers Bex Roberts and Tim Hirst, experienced caterers and learning mentors, are at the helm.

It is their recipes and techniques the young people will follow and there will be strict hygiene and quality standards.

“A choice of three delicious meals a week, all made with care from fresh, local ingredients will be sold in one-person portions,” says Bex.

Tim and Bex are currently putting the final touches to the kitchens and the menus, ready to train the young people during October’s British Food Fortnight.

From October 31, Food-i meals can be pre-ordered and delivered chilled to schools and local businesses, or collected by individuals from 2.30pm.

To see the weekly menu, go to and to order meals call Tim, Bex or Ben on 0114 2799 276, 07932 672727 or email