Producing home-grown talent – Soup-er ideas from a school kitchen

>> A celebrated chef proved he was a class act when he was challenged to rustle up lunch from whatever he could find in a school’s grounds. Marcus Verberne, head chef at Roast in London’s trendy Borough Market, rose to the challenge set by charity School Food Matters to create a dish with students from John Ruskin Primary School in Southwark.
Kitchen Garden Ideas was designed by School Food Matters to celebrate the two life skills of growing your own food and cooking simple nutritious meals, and aims to inspire children and families to have a go at both. Fifteen lucky Year 4 students took part in the cooking session with Marcus after a trip round the school’s roof top garden where they harvested school-grown leeks, potatoes, swede, rainbow chard and herbs. The children made a rustic chicken and vegetable soup followed by apple and blackberry crumble.

Marcus, who has worked at several high profile restaurants, including Le Caprice, J Sheekey and The Ivy, said: “It was such a pleasure to be cooking with students at John Ruskin. I was very lucky as a child to have parents who were passionate about tasty nutritious food so my earliest experiences were about how easy and fun it is to create healthy family meals.

“It was great to show the Year 4s how they can make good food easily and cheaply and I was very excited to be using produce they had grown at school.”

Suzy Gregory, teacher in charge of John Ruskin’s Language Unit and leader of the Year 2 Gardening Club, added: “At John Ruskin we work with the children from a young age to nurture an interest in growing and cooking food. We develop the children’s natural enthusiasm for food by harvesting and cooking the fruits and vegetables from our school gardens throughout the year.
“We can’t thank Marcus enough for coming to our school and inspiring our children. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the children to work with a professional chef to harvest, prepare, cook and eat – all in a morning!”
Marcus’s Rustic Chicken and Winter Vegetable Soup and Apple & Blackberry Crumble recipes are available to download from the School Food Matters website