A few weeks ago I saw a stack of appetising pasta dishes in the fridge at the Lancaster Hub. I went to the Bay Leadership Academy in Heysham to find out how they were made.

Maths teacher Paul Stubbins and Life Skills teacher Julie Sibbert told me Bay Leadership Academy has had a regular cooking event since 2019. At first it was just the staff, cooking after work, and then scaling up during the pandemic, and then getting pupils involved, cooking in big events six times a year. They aim for ‘good home-made style’ food, such as vegetable curry, roast vegetable crumble, and the vegetable Bolognese I saw. They have learned as they went along (roasting vegetables shrinks them, and makes for fewer meals in the end). This Wednesday they cooked Coronation Quiche – their first venture with pastry. They also have a vegan version, using gram flour to thicken the custard, and nutritional yeast instead of cheese (why didn’t the Palace think of this?). The recipe was created by Ceiteag Sinclair, who makes quiche each year for the local vegan Green Fair.

Paul and Julie

Paul and Julie

Paul takes the recipes and scales them up, looking through cookbooks for touches that will make the results interesting. In the last year, they have been getting ingredients from Aldi, Lidl, and Morrisons in Morecambe, with mushrooms from Drinkwater and veg from wholesalers Ralph Livesey of Preston. Paul sends the recipe to Eggcup, and we provide from surplus any ingredients they have in stock, and make up ingredient labels for the containers. The cooking is done in room used for GCSE catering, with eight stations, each with a domestic-sized stove and oven, so there are lots of little batches.

vegan quiche

Vegan quiche – photos by Paul

Pupils do the cooking, all day long. Paul and Julie said the students like the business of it, with something for everyone to do – prepping, cooking, washing up. And it’s a practical skill; the pupils learn techniques and encounter some ingredients they may not have seen before. They can take the recipe home and make it for their families. This time year 10 doing catering supervised Charity ambassadors from all the years. We talked to some of the catering students for Wednesday’s Big Cook: Thaila, Callum, Tommy, and Mason. They each said they were doing catering mainly to gain good cooking skills for themselves. They could make sure everyone followed food safety and recognised risks as they had learned in their course. But what they like most about it is doing something for their local community.

Paul and Julie stressed that it is not just their activity: many other staff members participate by helping with deliveries, covering classes, or enabling pupils to stay longer. It grows out of the academy’s ethos of community service. Eggcup will pick them up and store them, and half will go to People-Food-Community, our project with Stanleys in Morecambe’s West End, just walking distance from the Academy. The other half will go to Eggcup’s Lancaster Hub. Usually the meals are frozen and then distributed as they are needed, but this time they will be chilled and handed out immediately, ready for the Coronation.

Congratulations and thanks to Paul and Julie and the staff at Bay Leadership Academy, and to all the pupils who chopped, sauteed, stirred, mixed, rolled, and baked – and most important, cleaned up.