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River Cottage trainee chefs to provide meals for city's homeless

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall with trainee chefs and MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish at the apprenticeship scheme launch last year

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AN initiative is launching this month between celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage enterprise and a city homelessness charity.

The link between the River Cottage Young Chef Apprenticeship Scheme and St Petrock’s will involve the trainee chefs providing top quality meals to some of Exeter’s homeless people.

Currently, throughout their course held at River Cottage headquarters at Park Farm near Axminster, the chefs produce thousands of meals which keep the apprentices and staff well fed.

With the success of the scheme, the volume of food produced is growing and the team wanted to find a way to keep wastage to an absolute minimum.

Inspired by the work of St Petrock’s, which provides hot meals, advice and support for to 60 vulnerable adults each weekday from its base at Cathedral Yard, the River Cottage team decided the dishes should be used to feed some of Exeter’s homeless people instead.

Each month, around 100 freshly prepared meals will be frozen and then transported to Exeter to be reheated to provide lunches for those accessing the services of St Petrock’s.

Gill Luckings, from St Petrock’s, said: “Working with River Cottage provides a wonderful opportunity for our clients to experience a wider range of ingredients in high quality restaurant-style meals that would otherwise be out of reach.”

Chris Griffin, head of education at River Cottage, described the project as “reall exciting”. “It’s been made possible through the tremendous efforts of St Petrock’s and the support of refrigeration experts Foster, who have provided the food containers and freezers necessary for the scheme to work, free of charge.”

The first delivery of River Cottage meals is scheduled for the end of March.

The River Cottage Apprentice Scheme, launched last year and provides unemployed young people across the South West with work and the opportunity to gain a catering qualification.

Over 60 trainees are currently engaged on the course, which has gone from strength-to-strength since its launch, winning two national awards and attracting high profile attention from the National Apprenticeship Service and local MPs.

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