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Young chefs challenged to come up with ration recipes

News item details

  • News date: May '22
  • News author: Liam Waite

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CATERING students got a taste of life in the British Army as they were tasked with whipping up tasty treats using only ingredients from field ration packs.

The Army reached out to Lakes College about demonstrating how a career in catering does not have to be confined to a restaurant or cafe.

Seeing an opportunity for students to gain insight into a potential career, they were invited to visit the college.

With a classic green Land Rover pulling into the college’s car park, typical field cooking equipment and ration packs were shown off to catering students on Level 1 to 3 courses by Private Weston from the Royal Logistics Corps.

That was just the beginning as the students then had to make the most appetising meals they could from the contents of the packs.

Kirsty Stewart, curriculum team leader for engineering, motor vehicle and service industries, said: “The learners did the cooking.

“They were given a brief overview of what they would be expected to do if they were out in the field, then they were split into two teams and had to work together to produce dishes from the ingredients supplied in the packs.”

Dishes cooked by the students included a range of curries, stews and soups, as well as puddings and cakes.

The task was made harder by the fact that the students were using dried versions of many popular ingredients which they were not used to working with, leading them to have to factor that into their preparation and cooking times.

“They got insight into how they would work in the army, cooking out in the field, and they really did seem like they all enjoyed that,” Kirsty added.

“It made them think about different options for a career in catering and was a bit of an eyeopener.”

Laura Nasif, lead recruiter based at the Army Careers Centre in Carlisle, added: “Chefs in the British Army are adaptable and can work in any conditions, so this skills session with the students challenged them to think differently about how they approach food preparation and utilisation of ingredients, while working in a team – skills that a chef in the Army uses daily.

“A role as a chef in the Army can take you further than the kitchen – you will have the opportunity to travel globally and test your skills in a range of environments, from state banquets to disaster relief; no two days as an Army chef are the same.

“Alongside the technical skills learned in the kitchen, our soldiers are given training in administration, food storage and finance – as well as being able to attain driving licenses at the same time.”

The visit was so successful that the college would like to make it an annual event.