Foreword by Prue Leith
When we think of chefs, cooking schools or colleges, and of ‘gastronomy’, we tend to think of trendy male TV chefs showing off their skills, or rather intimidating chaps in tall toques making fancy restaurant food, or amateurs learning how to produce the perfect dinner party. But few of us eat expensive, elaborate or ‘fancy’ food very often, and many more cooks are engaged in producing ordinary fare for ordinary people, out of ordinary ingredients, to a very ordinary budget.
And most of those cooks are working in commercial kitchens, feeding many people: in hospitals, schools, in works canteens, in prisons, in conference centres or in central production units preparing food for airlines, trains or ships.
This book is for them, and high time too! My special interest in this area is that I have been a cook and caterer all my life and, believe me, it takes more skill to make a good sandwich than it does to dish up a pot of caviar or a plate of smoked salmon.
Simple food requires knowledge, skill and, above all, the desire to do it right – to make it look, smell and taste delicious while providing food that is nourishing and will not harm the health of the customer.
Now I chair the School Food Trust, which is charged with getting children at school to eat the new healthy school dinners. And of course children who have been brought up on a diet of chips and chocolate will need some persuading. Our best allies in this are the school cooks.
But school cooks, just like restaurant chefs, doctors, lawyers or IT buffs, need updating. They need to know what’s new, what’s fashionable, what’s healthy, how to manage on a tight budget, how to ‘sell’ food to new customers, how to use modern equipment. And some of them, who were hired at a time when many schools only required them to reheat bought-in products, need to learn, or re-learn, the basic techniques of cooking.
This book concentrates on simple dishes (some familiar, some excitingly different) made with affordable ingredients, that can be produced in large quantities, that are healthy and, above all, that taste great. It’s a good book and will, I hope, become the bible of many a cook.
This book focuses on the basic techniques of cookery. It is intended to introduce the learner to a range of recipes that can be used and adapted to all sectors of the hospitality industry. It also introduces the learner to the industry, and includes the principles of health and safety. It is also aimed at those currently working in the industry, especially those who work in schools and colleges. It acknowledges the School Food Trust’s training initiative, FEAST (Food Excellence and Skills Training).
This initiative is a major leap forward in recognising the importance of food in schools and that you have to educate young people from a very early age in food appreciation, diet, nutrition and health, so that they can fight against disease, and promote a healthy lifestyle. School cooks play an important part in the future food choices of young people. The book also recognises the importance of Licence to Cook food partnerships and other initiatives that aim to change eating habits and promote good food and cooking for all.
This book also covers healthy eating and does not encourage excessive use of salt, which is detrimental to health. It is anticipated that a high percentage of the population will suffer as a result of too much salt in their diet. For this reason, the recipes included here encourage the use of a range of fresh herbs such as parsley, fennel, coriander, chervil, tarragon, mint, chives, sage, marjoram and oregano. The book also provides the opportunity to learn more about the use of spices such as cumin, chillies, ginger and sesame seeds to make food tastier and more interesting.
The use of herbs and spices can give flavour to many dishes that would otherwise taste bland, and can lessen the need for salt.
Two other ingredients need to be used in moderation to help prevent health problems such as obesity, heart problems and diabetes. These are sugar and fat. This book takes care to limit these ingredients and to suggest menus and food combinations that contribute to a balanced diet without loss of flavour.
To make some of the recipes more interesting for a wider range of learners, we asked Zamzani Abdul Wahab, a celebrity chef and teacher in Malaysia, to include some recipes. Zamzani is famous in South East Asia and appears regularly on television in Malaysia and Singapore. He is an expert on the use of spices.
The book clearly identifies the basic cookery processes for each recipe. It is intended to introduce young people in schools and colleges to cookery and to the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, encouraging the use of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The contents of the book can be cross-referenced to the VRQ and NVQ at Level 1. All subject areas are covered by the book in a user-friendly style. The VRQ theory chapters are clearly justifiable, with the VRQ processes incorporated throughout the book, and a separate section on methods of cookery. The book is also intended for v
the new Diplomas in Hospitality, to be offered in schools and colleges from September 2009.
How to use this book
This book has been written to cover everything you need for the Level 1 NVQ and VRQ courses. It is also a great resource for catering students on other courses, and for anyone training in a hospitality and catering workplace.
The book is divided into two parts: Theory and Practice.
Part 1, Theory, covers all the things you need to know when you work with food, including hygiene and safety, kitchen equipment and nutrition.
Part 2, Practice, explains the different methods of cookery, from boiling to baking, and provides more than 150 recipes, plus lots of information about choosing and handling ingredients. Whether you want to try out a particular method of cookery or a new ingredient, produce evidence for assessment or plan a meal, there will be a recipe here that’s right for you.
To help make sure that you cover all the practical skills you need for your course, each recipe has icons showing which method(s) of cookery it uses. So if you want to practise shallow frying, look for that icon in Part 2. The icons look like this: Boiling
The NVQ and the VRQ
If you are studying for an NVQ or VRQ at Level 1, this book contains the facts you need, and recipes to develop your practical skills.
On this page you can see the units that make up each qualification, and where in the book they are covered. On the next page is a grid to help you find recipes that use different cookery skills.
NVQ Level 1 Food Preparation and Cooking is assessed through short knowledge tests and practical observation assessments. For VRQ Level 1 Diploma in Professional Cookery, theory units are assessed by short tasks and assignments. Practical units are vi
assessed by short answer questions and practical tests.