Stacey Martin is a Chef Lecturer at the College of West Anglia. Here, she explains why she is keen to get involved with the Food for Thought sessions starting tomorrow in King’s Lynn, to help residents trying to make ends meet
What was it about catering that appealed to you as a career?
I have always had a passion for food and my parents have always worked in the hospitality industry. You could say I was born into it – I have always been around restaurant and kitchen environments. Food brings people together, and it brings out the best in people. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smiles on the faces of those you are feeding and more so now passing on my skills and knowledge to the next generation of chefs brings me great pleasure, it’s so rewarding to see them bloom.
How long have you been a Catering Lecturer at the College of West Anglia and how have the past couple of years been?
I have been teaching at CWA for almost 12 years now. The last couple of years have been a challenge for everyone and further education is no exception. However, on the plus side the pandemic and lockdowns have given me and opportunities to develop new teaching methods and improved our use of technology. We have learned new ways to communicate with our students and each other. The hospitality industry took a hit over the last two years, but I am thrilled to see the industry once again flourishing. There is an abundance of opportunities for our students in terms of employment. I am excited to see what the next few years hold both in education and the hospitality industry.
How did you get involved with the Food for Thought sessions and how can they help people?
The lily project contacted us to see if we could support in delivering a range of sessions to the wider community. The initial object was focused on a range of current issues such as healthy eating, feeding a family and cooking on budget. As the program evolves and given the current climate we are focusing more on cooking on a budget.
What sort of things will you be covering? Is it important for you to prove that people really can cook nutritious meals on a budget?
We will be covering a range of subjects – with budgeting at the forefront of all weeks but also still incorporating a healthy well-balanced diet: breakfast ideas, lunches, dinners and snacks. We will also look at making supermarket swaps to vegetarian and plant-based meals; and store cupboard staples and how they can be used to create meals. We also explore brand testing, and seasonal produce as well as looking at Christmas dinner on a budget. I strongly believe it is important to help the wider community to begin to budget. We know money is going to be tight with the ever-rising cost of living. We are hoping we can show how to cut your budget with no detriment to meals times, looking at making ingredients go further and make smarter shopping choices. As a hospitality professional and lecturer, I think I am in a good position to be able to share my skills, knowledge and experience as not only a chef and lecturer but a mother too – to help the wider community where I possibly can. I am hoping I can make a positive impact on the lives/financial situation of those that attend the sessions.
If you had one top tip to help people with rising food costs, what would it be?
Shop smarter: try different brands, look for reductions, and explore frozen and tinned ingredients for longevity.
Free ‘Food for Thought‘ sessions to help King’s Lynn residents trying to make ends meet, due to increasing food costs, are to return from Friday 23 September 2022. The sessions will be held most Fridays between 9:30am and 11:30am at North Lynn’s Discovery Centre to help residents cook healthy and nutritious meals on a budget as well as tasting sessions and blind taste tests, comparing alternatives to some of the costly big brands. West Norfolk residents will be able to take away skills that help them cook on a budget, find cheaper supermarket swaps, batch cook, make healthy “fake-away” meals and learn how to make meals go further. Lily, a service that is owned and managed by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, is organising the interactive sessions with partners Freebridge Housing Association and the College of West Anglia from funding received from The East Coast Community Fund. For more information please either email email@example.com or telephone Lily on 01553 616200.