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Reading College students cook up a storm at Reading Town Meal

Professional culinary arts students from Reading College put their skills to good use on Saturday 25 September when they took part in the Reading Town Meal (@ReadingTownMeal). 

Over 1,000 attendees gathered at the biggest picnic in Reading, which took place in Forbury Gardens from 12-4pm. 

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Level 1 students cooked up a two-course meal using locally-donated fruit and vegetables, which was given away for free, from their stall in Forbury Gardens. 

The main course was a vegetable ragù served with potatoes and salad with apple and pear crumble for dessert. The students also made a rosemary focaccia. 

The students have been busy from the start of term learning about sustainability and what it really means to individuals, the local community and the planet, from locally grown produce to packaging and low carbon food production, animal welfare, public health and land use.   

Public services students at the college on King’s Road also got involved in the setup and set down of the event and marshalling during the event. 

Shyla Shaw, 16, from Reading is studying a Professional Culinary Arts Level 1 Diploma at Reading College. 

She said: “I’ve never taken part in anything like this before and it’s really interesting.  

“It’s helped me to learn how to work as a kitchen and prepare big bulk meals, communicate with each other and taught me to speak up when you need something. 

“I made all of the Focaccia bread with one of my friends, who’s also studying the same programme as me.”  

Ollie Masri, aged 16-years-old, from Reading, is studying a Professional Culinary Arts Level 1 Diploma at Reading College. 

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed preparing for the Reading Town Meal and coming to Forbury Gardens to serve it to the local community.” 

Mark Allsop, Professional Cookery lecturer at Activate Learning, said: 

“The Reading Town Meal is a great opportunity for our professional culinary arts students to get involved in a local community event by preparing a meal using locally sourced food, while championing  sustainability.” 

Naomi Coker, Intern, Reading Town Meal, said:

 “I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that helped out on the day. We managed to set up and pack away quicker than ever before, and the day ran without a hitch! We simply would not be able to run such an amazing event without the help of our great volunteers. 

“The Reading College students had such an enormous impact on the day, with their fingers in a lot of pies! The professional culinary arts students helped both with the preparation and serving of the meal, as well as the Public Service students helping with various aspects of the event, including setting up, collecting donations, and packing away at the end. 

“It went incredibly well, with over 1,000 attendees and plenty of delicious food! We also raised a lot for next year.” 

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