AS school dinners go, it was a world away from cold macaroni and lumpy custard.
Pupils at an East Lothian primary school served up a high-class meal with a little help from Albert Roux.
The top chef hosted more than 50 parents and guests at a special charity gala dinner last night, cooked up by a team including around eight of the Gullane primary seven pupils.
It was the culmination of a year-long project which saw Mr Roux, who owns the Greywalls Hotel, “adopt” the school and make several visits to teach the pupils about the delights of good food.
Among the chefs was 11-year-old Nina Young, whose sister Verity died in 2009 after a long battle against cancer and the immune disease lupus.
The art therapy charity set up in her memory, The Teapot Trust, was chosen by pupils to benefit from the night.
Mr Roux, who set up the UK’s first triple Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, with brother Michel, said: “It’s a lovely school, the young people are very interested in food. Scotland is a fantastic larder and often children don’t know what’s in there, so they’re interested when you show them a crab or a lobster, or snails. We talked to them about the menu, it’s very simple, local food. They’re all foodies, they like to taste and it’s the first time they’re cooking under supervision and they’re serving a table. I think there’s a lot of excitement there on their part.”
Nina’s mother, Laura Young, said Nina was delighted by her role as a chef: “I think she’s very excited. She does really enjoy cooking, so I’m delighted she’s able to be in the kitchen, and knows that all my friends who are keen cooks say ‘I can’t believe it, I’d give my right arm to have a class with him!’
“I think Verity would be totally delighted that the event is taking place, and also a bit miffed, because she would have considered herself a far better cook than Nina!”
The charity currently provides four art therapists who visit outpatient clinics at the Sick Kids to brighten up the hospital experience of patients.
With one group of pupils working hard in the kitchen, the rest took on front of house duties.
Head teacher Maureen Tremmel said: “There was the head chef from Greywalls, and Mr Roux’s personal chef, helping them. They were quite excited about the whole idea of service and getting the tables ready.”
She said the youngsters had really benefited from their time working with Mr Roux, whose son Michel Roux Jr is a popular judge on Masterchef.
“They’ve felt quite special because they’ve worked with him, and some of them are into Masterchef, so they know who Michel is.”
She added: “I’m delighted to host Mr Roux and his team and I’m delighted that it’s a charity that the children have chosen to support, The Teapot Trust.”
WHAT THE SCHOOL SERVED UP
Scottish Smoked Salmon & Leek Tart
Chive Butter Sauce
Ballotine of Free Range Scottish Chicken, Savoy Cabbage with Fondant Potato
Warm Pear & Tonka Bean Crumble
Vanilla Ice Cream