West Lothian dinner ladies trained by top chef at Balmoral

Dinner lady Debbie Van Hussen from Deans Community High School, Livingston joined Jeff Bland and his staff at The Balmoral Hotel last week
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Dinner lady Debbie Van Hussen from Deans Community High School, Livingston joined Jeff Bland and his staff at The Balmoral Hotel last week .
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They’ve been given top-class culinary training in the kitchens of the Balmoral Hotel.

And now three school dinner ladies will return to their day jobs with their pupils holding out their plates at the ready.

Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

Yvonne Clark, Debbie Van Hussen and Pamela Neill – all trainee dinner ladies at schools in West Lothian – were given the opportunity to cook inside each of the Balmoral’s famous kitchens and learn how to prepare five-star dishes.

They took tips from the hotel’s executive chef, Jeff Bland, and were given a behind-the-scenes insight to the Number One restaurant.

Yvonne, assistant cook in the kitchen at Riverside Primary School in Livingston, said: “I really enjoyed my day of training. It was great to see how things were done in the Balmoral kitchens and I learned new techniques and helped out preparing some of the food.

“Cooking for the children at school is something I really enjoy.

“However, the way we prepare our food for them is slightly different because it is important certain nutritional values are retained.

“This is an experience I’ll never forget.”

The catering partnership was formed between the hotel and West Lothian Council, and hotel bosses have now extended an invitation to Edinburgh’s dinner ladies.

Derek O’Neill, catering manager for West Lothian Council, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our catering staff, who had never experienced an environment such as The Balmoral,

“There is an obvious difference between school kitchens and those at the Balmoral but we felt that our catering staff would learn a great deal from this experience.

“Chef Bland was very encouraged and supportive of the idea.

“We think this is a first for both the council and the Balmoral and our team were very excited to have this opportunity to learn from and experience working in one of the best hotels in the country. We are grateful to Chef Bland and his team for their support.”

He added: “Our school catering staff deliver over 13,500 school meals each day and we are very proud of our work but this opportunity was a unique learning experience for us.

“Most chefs would love to have this opportunity, so to have our school catering staff join the chefs at the Balmoral for the day is an exciting partnership.”

Chef Bland said: “At the Balmoral we’re passionate about championing Scottish food and drink and serving it in new and innovative ways, so we were delighted with the chance to open our kitchen and share our knowledge with Yvonne, Debbie and Pamela.

“We’re also passionate about fostering local talent so our chefs were keen to spend time sharing best practice and technique with them on a one-to-one basis in the hope that they can take some new ideas back to their own kitchens.

“We would be happy to look at doing this again with dinner ladies across Edinburgh.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk