Professional chefs visited Brooke Weston to demonstrate how to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal for an athlete. Martyn Harper from Graysons Restaurants, spoke about how athletes now favour protein and vegetables over carbohydrate-based meals while his colleague, Josh Johnson, prepared a healthy lunch.
Josh, who works at Chelmsford City Racecourse, said: ‘We designed an easy-to-cook lunch with a good balance of protein and vegetables so I prepared quinoa with mushrooms, spinach and crème fraiche with smoked salmon on top. We wanted to demonstrate that a typical diet for an athlete isn’t just pasta but things like Quorn and textured vegetable protein. The cooking method was quite straightforward and the students sampled the results.’
The chefs visited as part of the FutureChef Programme, run by Springboard, an organisation that encourages young people to consider a catering career. The 'Look and Learn' session prepared them for the competition which our Year 10 students will start in the autumn. In the first round students have to cook a healthy one-course meal for a £5 budget. Winners progress through to local and regional finals where the brief is more rigorous and the budget more generous before national finals take place at a top London hotel. The session was also useful for helping students to design their own healthy menu as part of the Aldi ‘Get Set to Eat Fresh’ project this term.
Mr Harper said that there are currently around 20,000 catering and hospitality vacancies in the country and the catering industry needs talented and enthusiastic young people to join the profession: ‘I did 30 years as a chef in restaurants and hotels. It is all about ability, pressure and timings but it is a really rewarding and interesting career with the advantage that if you train as a chef you will always have work. When I was researching what athletes are eating now I was surprised and learned a lot. Their diets are now much more protein based and leafy green vegetables are incredibly important, the darker the better. Brussels sprouts are an unbelievable superfood and other great ingredients are grains, beans, oily fish and skinless chicken. Athletes should avoid all processed food as chemicals are added as well as a lot of salt and sugar. I would recommend using olive oil rather than animal fats and brown and whole-grain versions of rice and pasta rather than the processed white varieties.’