Bekynton welcomed the acclaimed celebrity chef, James Tanner, to their kitchens to prepare a special ‘Street Food’ themed meal for houses and staff. Mr. Tanner operates several thriving restaurants in the UK with his brother Chris, and is also known for his appearances on the BBC cookery programme, ‘Ready Steady Cook’, and the ITV Breakfast programme, ‘Lorraine’. The Press Office team took the opportunity to speak with Mr. Tanner regarding his views on food safety and sustainability.

Why did you choose ‘street food’ as the theme for tonight’s meal?

I think the fusion of different cultures has made what is ‘street food’ truly unique to any other Michelin-starred restaurant. The flavors and skills involved in street food are comparable to traditional restaurants, but with a bigger sense of community.

How was the school food back in your day?

School food was very different; they didn’t have food which was as fresh or varied. I think that school food has tried to embrace the global scene, but we had very standard fare back at school. The staff have also become much more knowledgeable about where the produce comes from and the different ingredients which go into a dish.

Different people have different dietary constraints. How do you make sure people with allergies and preferences get the best meal they possibly can?

We have to deal with allergies every day in our restaurants. Our staff are trained to be aware of allergies, and they make sure to take sanitary precautions. We cook to order, so we can change the menu to suit a customer’s needs. It’s important here at Eton to be aware of everybody’s preferences, and it is a matter of standardising the food safety procedure in all restaurants and canteens.

What steps do you take to make sure that your restaurants are as sustainable as possible?

We stick with the same suppliers that we have had for 20 years, and we make sure that our fish are line-caught and MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified. We have sections in our kitchens for food waste and cardboard waste, and we try to pass our compostable material to farmers. We also stick with glass bottles to avoid the usage of plastic. I think that it’s a shame that stocks of fish are going down, and I’m actually trying to raise awareness about the need for sustainability in food.

Apart from your work in restaurants, how else do you engage with issues of food sustainability and food safety?

Apart from the things we do in our restaurants, we work with campaigns such as Farm to Fork to reclaim unharvested fruits and vegetables for people in need. I also was an ambassador for the Red Tractor organisation, which promotes and regulates food quality in England. People also sometimes ask me for recipes which can be made sustainably.

The Press Office Team would like to thank the Bekynton staff for the opportunity to speak with Mr. Tanner about his experiences with food, both in and out of the kitchen. His advice will prove invaluable to the school as our catering team continues to improve upon its range of healthy, sustainable meal options.

Vernon Li (DWG)

Photos: Thomas Ward (TEWH)