A lesson in tasty, nutritional dinners

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With Sheffield Food Festival now only two weeks away, we focus on more unsung food heroes – this week our school dinner ladies…

School dinners always used to be something of a joke, but things have changed in recent years, thanks to Jamie Oliver, a fresh approach to food and a new focus on healthy, tempting meals.

And the women responsible for feeding the appetites and culinary imaginations of the next generation certainly deserve recognition.

Lily Toogood and Becky Hewitt have been nominated as representatives of the dozens of cooks in schools around the city.

Peter Mcgrath, general manager of education catering specialists Taylor Shaw, says: “One thing is for sure: both Lily and Becky are ideal representatives of school catering staff. Both have the passion and desire to be the very best they can be and support their teams in delivering an excellent service to the children.”

Becky, former assistant cook at Heritage Park School, has just been appointed catering supervisor over the new kitchen at Manor Lodge Primary School – where headteacher Catherine Whittingham recently gave the team a 100% rating.

Lily, who runs the meals service at Greenlands Primary, is an old hand, with many years of experience behind her.

“She started in school meals when the Human League were at the top of the charts – and you only have to spend a few moments with her realise the passion she has for providing a quality meal for the children,” says Peter.

Last month, at Taylor Shaw’s Celebrating Success awards evening, Lily was presented with the Training & Development Award.

Adds Peter: “That goes some way to explaining why she is so good at what she does – in involving, supporting and leading a well-motivated team, being extremely well organised, and producing great food, all of which contributes to an excellent service to the children and an exceptionally well managed kitchen.”