At Cookery School, our emphasis is on delicious, flavoursome food using excellent ingredients. Sustainability has always been at the heart of Cookery School’s ethos and this pervades all that we do, from sourcing of ingredients and products used at Cookery School, to environmental issues like our water and energy use, cleaning products and delivery schedules through to the way that we market our classes and courses and treat our students and staff.
Our focus is on making the most delicious food using the best possible ingredients and in our teaching we try to make cooking as accessible as possible, believing that good ingredients that are simply and well cooked result in wonderfully tasty and enticing food.
Across our classes, courses and events at Cookery School at Little Portland Street our teachers explain about using seasonal ingredients, local sourcing and the importance of eating ethically.
To this end, all of our meat, poultry, eggs, root vegetables, fruit and wines are always organic, as well as a host of other ingredients. More than 75% of our ingredients are sourced locally and more than 75% of our fresh produce is organic.
Three star SRA rating
Since 2012 Cookery School has been awarded a Three Star Rating– the highest possible rating – from the SRA, making us the only London cookery school in London to have applied for and picked up an SRA rating. The SRA said: “Cookery School has demonstrated an exceptional and consistent approach towards sustainable practices. Sustainability is highly embedded in its business strategy and its initiatives are amongst the best in the hospitality industry. Its highest achievement was in Society, where the maximum possible (100%) was obtained in all four areas of the SRA survey.”
Encouraging our staff and students to understand sustainability
We advise our staff and our students to follow these five simple ways to enjoy their food in an eco-friendly fashion. Becoming sustainable is not difficult but just requires a slightly different way of thinking. Years ago people baulked at recycling but now we all do it automatically with little effort. Changing eating habits requires the same slight change of thought and at Cookery School we now automatically and routinely do these things:
- Eat a little less meat – in smaller portions and, when possible, try to stretch it by making sauces and sausages thereby making a little meat go a long way.
- Eat well sourced fish – look for the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) sign as that means that the fish that you are eating is not depleting our oceans so that they can be easily restocked. Line caught, local fish is best of all but fish that is brought in by boat from places not too far away is also fine.
- Buy local and seasonal – so that food does not have to travel from far to reach our plates. It is often far less expensive if seasonal where there are often gluts of produce which can be frozen for use at other times.
- Buy straight from the farmer – as this avoids lots of middlemen, means that your produce is as fresh as can be and is also local. At the same time it is supporting local businesses.
- Buy organic whenever you can. Soil Association sets high standards for looking after the soil but other associations like Red Tractor also ensure ethical practices even if not organic ones. Organically grown vegetables are free from chemicals and meat that is organic is grazed on grass rather than being fed on corn that could provide food for humans thereby making it a very expensive form of nourishment for cattle. Organic meat and poultry has space to grow and are free from nasty hormones and bad farming practices.
Improving our energy efficiency and consumption
From chefs and back of house staff to everyone in the office, we are focused on saving energy in our two kitchens and office. We have reduced our water consumption, use pressure cookers where we can and have a strict policy when it comes to putting lids on pans and filling ovens. Come Christmas time, we steam our Christmas puds under the turkey which keeps the bird moist and saves on energy.
- Our kitchen runs on green energy and the signs show students and clients about energy and water saving
- We use only renewable (wind generated) energy in our kitchens, supplied by Good Energy
- Our wonderful new Fisher and Paykel appliances that have highest possible sustainable ratings so we know they are not chewing up unnecessary energy
- With our ‘no plastics’ policy, there is no cling film in our kitchens
- We use only recycled tin foil but keep that use to a minimum
- We try to limit the number of deliveries made to Cookery School by using companies that make a number of deliveries to central London in one trip. We also buy in bulk as far as possible as this again keeps unnecessary deliveries to a minimum
Recycling food waste for composting or anaerobic digestion
We recycle everything that we can and avoid plastic at all costs, opting for metal and glass containers, and using recycled foil. To further improve, we have committed to composting all of our food waste so that 0% goes into landfill.
- We recycle almost all of our waste, including our oil and coffee grinds, and have clearly marked bins to help students recycle any waste that they may generate too
- 99% of our supplies arrive in glass or tins and any packaging that comes into the kitchen is returned to the supplier for re-use
- Re-use is an important element in recycling and we try to have things fixed rather than throwing them out or replacing them
- We have very little food waste as we are very careful with our orders, but any food that is left over after a class is eaten by staff for lunch
People and Marketing
We try to be as fair as possible with people at Cookery School whether they are staff or attendees.
In all our communications, we are as transparent and honest as we can be and are always striving to make it as clear as possible exactly what we offer in our courses and classes and the dishes that are being cooked.
Dietary considerations are very important to us as we like to feel that everyone is able to cook and enjoy eating the food that is made. We buy special ingredients for those with dietary requirements so that they too can enjoy their time with us.
Throughout the year we donate to local London organisations as well as national and global charities and have done that since our inception. We have charities that we regularly support and we also work with schools to promote healthy eating.
We never turn away a school that is keen on giving their pupils a cooking lesson and will always try to accommodate schools, even if they only have a small budget, as we understand the importance of teaching young people skills for life.
Sustainable Kitchen OCN Level 2 accredited course
We are about to launch our new course for those in that work in the food industry and wish to learn more about sustainability. The lively and practical course, with a necessary theoretical basis, teaches how easy it is to bring sustainable practices into the workplace and, at the same time into one’s own life. It is a full day’s course with a practical exercise included to bring sustainability issues to life. After completing the course, attendees can qualify for an OCN Level 2 accreditation called Sustainable Kitchen.