Sustainability is very important to us all here at Cookery School and we are firm believers that plastic is NOT fantastic.
Rosalind’s sustainability journey
The Cookery School sustainable journey really started before the school began sixteen years ago: My daughter, Kathryn, had encouraged me from early days to buy as much organic food as I was able to afford as organic produce was considered an expensive luxury. She maintained that if everyone bought only a small amount, demand would be established for more and eventually a general greater demand for it would develop. Of course, that is just what happened and we are all now aware of the benefits to our planet of using as much organic, sustainable produce as possible. So, when I founded Cookery School and established the ethos, using organic produce was very much at the heart of what we did. There were times when we could not find organic root veg so we simply omitted using them. All that has changed and it is easy to find good organic, local and seasonal produce these days.
Our journey in becoming sustainable has taken place over several years and, having experienced it, we know that overnight change is impossible to accomplish. Changes need to be planned and by working through an easy list, the goal of sustainable eating is within everyone’s grasp. In the past the very word ‘sustainable’ seemed to suggest something that was hard to achieve. This really is not the case now because everyone is speaking about sustainable practices and there is expert help to hand in so many areas. With the emphasis on local and seasonal eating, even supermarkets are now providing a good range of organic ingredients and products that do not harm the environment.
It is hard to believe looking back that some people considered us to be a little hippy and they could not understand why we stopped using tuna flown in from Sri Lank, and gave up on skate before most people even knew that it was endangered. Plastic film was banned from our kitchens more than ten years ago as was foil, unless it was recycled. Foil ought to be used as little as possible. If being used, then it should be recycled foil. However even recycled foil is recyclable so can be made into a ball and put in with recycling. Use of aluminium foil is not to be encouraged although it does occasionally have a place in the kitchen where nothing else works as well.
Whilst the actions of one cookery school cannot dent the huge problem that our planet faces, if we teach people about eating sustainably and reducing their carbon footprint and then they tell their friends, with all of us working together, we will start to make a small difference. This is rather how the organic movement started! We teach thousands of people each year so are optimistic that with explaining how easy it is to run a sustainable kitchen, word will spread as those that we teach tell their friends and so on
We are very pleased but also constantly surprised when well-known chefs set targets to reduce their waste or rid their kitchens of plastic when this has been a part of our DNA for so long. So many procedures that others now follow to reduce environmental impact have been in place at Cookery School for a number of years already
However, we are upset to see how other chefs on television still use plastic as if it offers no threat to our environment. They ought to be setting an example to the country and leading the way in sustainable kitchen practices.
The benefits of being sustainable are increasingly obvious and have changed from a time when everyone thought that being sustainable would maintain resources on our planet for longer to becoming a change that has to be made urgently as we now realise how many of our natural resources are being lost.
The Way We Work
Our emphasis is on delicious, flavoursome food using excellent ingredients. All of our meat, poultry, eggs, root vegetables, fruit and wines are always organic, as well as a host of other ingredients.
All our classes and courses teach you about seasonality and how you can be more sustainable in the home. Sustainability has always been part of Cookery School’s ethos even prior to the advent of wonderful organisations like the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) who push us to do even more. This includes:
- – Over 75% of our ingredients are sourced locally
- – More than 75% of our fresh produce is organic
- – We have a procurement statement signed by all our suppliers
- – We use renewable energy in our kitchens
- – We have very little food waste but any waste we do produce is taken to a state of the art plant where it is converted to renewable energy and nutrient rich fertiliser. We also use peelings and bones to make the most delicious stock
- – Every year we work with local and national charities to raise awareness of sustainability and healthy eating
Our Plastic Policy
Did you know that 250kg of plastic gets dumped into our oceans every second of every day across the world? That’s a tonne every 4 seconds! Plastics take decades to break down and has is having an adverse effect on the food chain, changing animals and it’ll change us too.
Plastics have been banned on the whole from our kitchen for years. It takes decades (if ever) to biodegrade and we are well aware plastics from packaging can leach into food, potentially compromising our health. We make sure that as far as possible our suppliers deliver our produce in containers that we use again and again so to eliminate single-use plastics. We also always buy our oil in big tins as opposed to plastic bottles so that they can be reused and to prevent the dioxins in the plastics from reacting with the oil. We store all our food in glass containers and never use cling film.
We do not provide any single use plastic bags to students with left over food to take home. At the end of every class we all sit down together and enjoy a huge feast of the food we have cooked together. This often means there aren’t left overs to take away. However, our new policy will particularly effect those on the Meat & Poultry and the Baking classes where the uneaten food is often abundant. We have our own Cookery School recycled bags that we sell for £6 if you find yourself stuck. When, on occasion, someone does take home any food, the containers we give are all recyclable or compostable.
Three Star SRA Rating
Cookery School holds a Three Star Rating – the highest possible rating – from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), making us London’s most sustainable cookery school!
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.”
Ethical Eating & Cooking Classes
Across our classes, courses and events at Cookery School our teachers talk about eating healthily, using seasonal ingredients, local sourcing and the importance of eating ethically. Our kitchen runs on Good Energy and our signs teach students and clients about energy and water saving.
All the fish we use is sustainably sourced. In strengthening knowledge and awareness amongst our own staff, we are in a better position to pass these lessons on to our students and put these values into practice elsewhere.
Improving our energy efficiency and consumption
From our cookery teachers and our back of house staff to everyone in the office, we are all focused on saving energy in our two kitchens at Cookery School. We have reduced our water consumption, use pressure cookers and now 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.
Encouraging our staff and our students
We advise our staff and our students to follow these simple ways to enjoy your food in an eco-friendly fashion
- – Eat a little less meat – we’ve cut back on the amount of meat served and always have lots of fresh veg on the plate
- – Eat well sourced fish
- – Buy local and seasonal – we like Eat The Seasons for advice on what to eat when
- – Buy straight from the farmer
- – Save the soil and buy organic where you can
- – Recycle and reuse
Throughout the year we donate to local London organisations as well as national and global charities. We encourage our customers to donate to Magic Breakfast at the checkout whenever they make a purchase on our site.