Masterchef school dinners for 50,000 secondary students

Reigning TV ‘Masterchef the Professionals’ champion Ash Mair unveils school food signature range

50,000 UK school students are now being offered Masterchef-created gourmet lunch items, thanks to Ash Mair, reigning champion of the popular BBC programme ‘Masterchef the Professionals’.

Mair, dubbed ‘a supreme talent’ by 2-Michelin star culinary legend Michel Roux Junior, worked with Cucina’s chefs over the summer to develop eight new gourmet menu items designed specifically for young palates. Each of these items now on sale across Cucina’s 41 school restaurants.

Commenting at a special event to launch Mair’s signature range (which includes such items as Korean BBQ Pork Wrap with Kim Chi vegetables, Chicken and Mango Salad with Sweet Soy and Sesame Dressing, Peri-Peri Chicken and ‘Build-your-own Udon Noodle Soup), Cucina MD Steve Quinn said:

“We believe school students deserve to eat the very best of food. That’s how they learn about good nutrition and good eating – by enjoying new taste experiences. Ash has brought his genius for flavour combinations to these dishes and the results are just sensational. That’s what the kids and the teachers are telling us too.”

One of the chefs working with Mair over the summer was Steve Bott,  head chef at The Hazeley Academy in Milton Keynes. Botts reported that the dishes were proving very popular with students and staff:

“All the new Ash Mair items are selling really well. The Peri-Peri chicken is especially popular, as well as the African lamb wraps and the pineapple, coconut and lime muffins. The teachers are really loving the flavours of the new food, too.”

At a special tasting at The Harefield Academy, MIddlesex, Year 13 student Lauren Derrick singled out the Paella Shaker Salad for particular praise: “This is so tasty, and the sauce adds a real ‘twang’ to it.”

Kane Gleeson of Year 8 added: “I like Cucina anyway, they do really nice food. I’m excited by this new food, it’s an experience.”

Of the range he has created, Ash Mair said: “It looks great and I’m pleased with it. As long as the kids like it, I’m happy. I really enjoyed doing this, it was different from anything I have done before. Spread over a lot of separate units, it has to work everywhere. The Cucina kitchens are good and they are all highly trained chefs, which makes it a lot easier.”

Cucina has recently held meetings with renowned ‘Great British Menu’ chef Phil Howard, owner of 2 Michelin star restaurant The Square in Mayfair, with a view to a similar kind of collaboration in the future.

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