Reigning BBC Pro Masterchef champ teams with school caterer

Acclaimed culinary talent Ash Mair develops new menus for Cucina

School catering company Cucina Restaurants recently employed the services of BBC’s reigning ‘Masterchef The Professionals’ champion Ash Mair to  develop new menu offerings for the start of this new school year.

Working alongside Cucina’s new Guild of Chefs, Mair, acclaimed a ‘supreme talent’ by 2 Michelin Star culinary legend Michel Roux Jr, spent 2 days in August designing, cooking and evaluating 14 possible new menu items to be offered at each of the company’s 40 school restaurants.

Dishes developed included North African Roast Lamb with Chick Pea and Carrot Salad and Mint Yoghurt, Barbecued Pork Wrap with Kim Chi Pickled Vegetables, Noodle Soup with Won Tons, a new range of ‘shaker salads’ as well as specially created items for Thai theme days.

Of his two days working with Cucina, Mair said: “You can’t help but be impressed by these guys. They obviously put in so much hard work to maintain the highest standards and it’s been an absolute pleasure to make a contribution in this way. It’s a pity more companies are not doing it like this. Cucina really are at the forefront of school food.”

Cucina’s Head Chef Andy Wilcox said: “We’ve all admired what Ash achieved on Masterchef. I was impressed with his creative flair, particularly in his Asian-inspired dishes, which I’m sure the kids will love. I think he was also surprised by how skilled we were, too. This is school food, but as very few experience it.”

Cucina MD Steve Quinn said: “This exercise was not just about creating some exciting new menu offerings – although these are truly fantastic. It was also about inspiring and showcasing the work of our excellent team of chefs. It was particularly good that our Cucina Academy student Dom Turner was involved in the days.”

Of the 14 dishes developed initially, 8 will be incorporated into Cucina’s menu cycles for 2012-13.

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