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Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opens the first school for dinner ladies

25th October 2005

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who created a reality television series to transform the quality of Britain's school food, yesterday opened the country's first specialist training kitchen for dinner ladies.

The chef said it was time to "radically retrain" school cooks in an attempt to raise nutritional standards and improve pupils' health.

The training kitchen in Braintree, Essex, has been launched by Jeanette Orrey, author of The Dinner Lady and a former school cook who worked with Oliver on his TV series Jamie's School Dinners, which revealed the poor quality of much of the food being served to pupils south of the Border.

The programme led to Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, announcing a £280 million funding package aimed at improving school meals in England and Wales.

Yesterday, Oliver warned that hundreds of millions of pounds still needed to be invested and doubted whether the government was willing to come up with the cash.

He said: "To make radical changes, you need to radically retrain the dinner ladies and to pay for their extra hours. I still don't believe that is going to happen."

In Scotland, ministers have ploughed millions into a Hungry for Success initiative, aimed at improving school food.


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