Sheffield schoolboy gets a special day off to cook with Masterchef star: ‘It was a dream come true’

Most eight-year-olds are far keener on playing Xbox games than planning future careers but for Frazer Armstrong a chance to cook with an expert was a dream come true.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Friday, 5th July 2019, 7:13 am
Cooking demonstration by MasterChef quarter-finalist Chris Hale at Atkinsons in Sheffield. Chris is pictured with MasterChef fan Frazer Armstrong who was given the time off to school to attend the special event. Picture: Chris Etchells

The Mosborough Primary School pupil has been obsessed with cooking and food preparation since the age of four and when his grandma, Teresa Gibson, spotted a Masterchef star lining up to do in-store demos at Atkinsons on The Moor she couldn’t hesitate to enquire further.

Sadly she thought her hopes were dashed when she realised the event fell on a school day and the store arranged for Masterchef star Chris Hale to autograph a pack of food related goodies for Frazer.

But then Mosborough Primary, aware of the potential benefits for the pupil who has been previously diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, granted him the time off.

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Frazer was thrilled to meet Chris, learn some food tips and have his picture taken with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Tony Downing.

Teresa said: “I’m so grateful to Atkinsons and Chris. It was a dream come true for Frazer. He’s a big fan of the show and has never stopped talking about the visit. He has been helping me in the kitchen for years and it looks like he could have found his vocation very early on.”

Chris – who reached the quarter finals of BBC Masterchef – spent the day doing demonstrations of some of his most renowned dishes as part of the department store’s 147th birthday celebrations.

The day was helping raise funds for Weston Park Cancer Charity.

David Cartwright, Atkinsons’ store manager, said: “We were thrilled to make it a day to remember for Frazer. It was a fabulous day to launch our new-look cookery department and raise much-needed funds for a great local good cause.”

John Atkinson opened his first shop on the Moor – then known as South Street – in 1872. He had gone from working as an assistant at Cole Brothers to setting up a small draper’s store on West Street, then going it alone with his first store on South Street, The Moor.

Aged 26, he sold hosiery, ribbons and lace, concentrating on quality goods and first-class service that has always been an Atkinsons watchword.

The shop has survived two world wars – it was flattened in the Sheffield Blitz of 1940, but managed to carry on by opening smaller stores all over the city until they could rebuild on the original site. The present store opened in February 1960 to a huge fanfare.

One of its most notable past attractions was a crocodile that used to reside in the store’s in-house zoo in the 1930s.