Hackney's field-to-fork cooking school opens in Lower Clapton

The project trains school chefs and offers food education to children and communities in Hackney.

The project trains school chefs and offers food education to children and communities in Hackney. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

The Hackney School of Food has officially opened, with MP Meg Hillier praising the project for its potential impact on children's health. 

While the school officially opened on September 11, it has already been offering regular cooking classes to students from primary and secondary schools across London. 

Children at the school help grow and harvest fruit and vegetables. They then learn to turn the produce into meals.

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, attended the launch party and said: "Local children have a fantastic space to come and learn and cook. It’s the very best of facilities – the Rolls Royce of classrooms."

A group photo taken at Hackney School of Food launch.

Chef and co-founder of Hackney School of Food Nicole Pisani, Leap Federation's Louise Nichols, MP Meg Hillier, National Food strategy author and co-founder of Leon Restaurants Henry Dimbleby and chief exetive of Chefs in Schools Naomi Duncan attend the official opening of Hackney School of Food. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

The MP added that cooking and eating together tackles many issues, "boosting mental health and stopping loneliness".


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"On this estate and at this school we are ahead of the curve, food is grown and nurtured in different spaces for local residents. Long may this go from strength to strength," Ms Hillier said.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble meets one of the school's chickens. 

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble meets one of the school's chickens. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

The project, which caters for all ages, has seen pupils launch pizza ventures from the site and become development chefs for the meal delivery company Tastily.

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It was founded by Louise Nichols, executive head of the LEAP Federation, Henry Dimbleby and Nicole Pisani, co-founders of the school food charity Chefs in Schools.

Hackney School of Food was funded by donations and designed by architects Surman Weston.

Hackney School of Food was funded by donations and designed by architects Surman Weston. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

They saw potential in a disused building and began fundraising to create a food hub that would benefit kids, chefs and the community.

Louise Nichols said: “When I think back to what the site was like – a rundown building and piece of wasteland, it is incredible to see how far we have come.

The Hackney School of Food launch party.

The Hackney School of Food is backed by some of the country’s leading food influencers, including Prue Leith, Thomasina Miers and Amelia Freer. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

"The gardens are thriving, the children are receiving an amazing education. But we couldn’t have done this without the support of the community and the many people who donated time and money."

A Teddy Bear’s picnic for children under five and their parents who are considering applying for a place at Mandeville school, which is part of the LEAP Federation of Schools, is being held on October 20 at 9.30am. 

Head gardener Lidka D’Agostino talks to a patron of the Hackney School of Food.

Head gardener Lidka D’Agostino talks to a patron of the Hackney School of Food. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

The picnic will include a tour given by the headteacher of the early years classrooms and the Hackney School of Food. Book your place by emailing mdvoffice@mandeville.hackney.sch.uk

Learn more about the school at www.hackneyschooloffood.com

Find out more about Chefs in Schools at www.chefsinschools.org.uk

BBC presenter Dr Chris Van Tulleken , Chief executive of Chefs in Schools Naomi Duncan and Henry Dimbleby.

BBC presenter Dr Chris Van Tulleken , Chief executive of Chefs in Schools Naomi Duncan and co-founder of Leon restaurants and Chefs in Schools Henry Dimbleby. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

The school has a vegetable garden, bee hives, chickens, pizza oven and state of the art cooking classroom.

The school has a vegetable garden, bee hives, chickens, pizza oven and state of the art cooking classroom. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

Mandeville School’s Parent Teacher Association.

Mandeville School’s Parent Teacher Association. Mandeville is part of the LEAP Federation of Schools which helped co-found the Hackney School of Food. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

Hackney MP Meg Hillier at the Hackney School of Food. 

Hackney MP Meg Hillier at the Hackney School of Food. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

Deputy Mayor, Anntoinette Bramble talks with Louise Nichols, Executive Head of LEAP Federation of Schools.

Deputy Mayor, Anntoinette Bramble talks with Louise Nichols, Executive Head of LEAP Federation of Schools. - Credit: © 2013 Mark Hewlett

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