This week my focus has been on the launch of my new cooking campaign with Marcus Rashford, aiming to teach families to make healthy meals on a budget. Marcus and I have very similar backgrounds; we both grew up with single mothers and qualified for free school meals. Brainstorming this project we thought: what can we do to tackle food poverty that is a bit more proactive rather than reactive? So we went away and came back with Full Time — a series of five-minute “how-to” videos and recipes aiming to inspire cash and time-poor families to cook cheap, healthy and filling meals. It’s just 52 meals that are exciting to cook but use supermarket staples. We are also trying to look at how we can de-stigmatise food banks which people often feel embarrassed about using. The reality is of course that food bank users are in that situation through no fault of their own.
Sunday was the launch of the Full Time videos on Instagram. Marcus is not an experienced cook — our cooking together was the first time he had peeled a carrot. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, lots of people aren’t at home in the kitchen and this is what we’re trying to tackle. I also took my little man to rugby.
On Monday there was a huge amount of reaction to Sunday’s video of Marcus cooking the first dish, a chicken satay stir fry. There were lots of questions that came back, so we were busy answering those. We’ve had so many pictures back of kids learning how to cook; it’s been a magical few days.
There’s been an amazing buzz at my London restaurant, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill.Hospitality has obviously suffered hugely this year but people’s apprehension seems to be decreasing. It’s fantastic to be open. I have been hugely worried about my restaurants — the fear is everywhere in hospitality. Many places have taken on a huge amount of debt. Profit margins are very small in restaurants, and there is the question of whether everyone can survive long enough to service those debts. We’ve changed our menu as we are now cooking on a big outdoor grill — think outdoor brasserie. It’s barbecue lobster, grilled steak, grilled chicken, asparagus dishes and potted desserts. The team in London have been together for more than two years. Using an outdoor space has been an adjustment, but we have great staff and it has all clicked into place.
On Wednesday unfortunately we had to close the restaurant. We looked at the forecast on Tuesday night and saw rain all day. First thing on Thursday we had a meeting at our pub, The Coach, about our strategy for reopening. While the team were on furlough we set up a charity to feed front-line NHS staff. It kept the energy and momentum going amongst us and helped us keep in touch with each other.
The pandemic has highlighted how so many people suffer from food poverty. Children haven’t been going to school and therefore haven’t been eating. That’s where Marcus’s voice has been phenomenal. He and I hope to reach as many people as possible. Have a go at these dishes — we’d like them to become part of people’s repertoire every week.
The Full Time menu will be released on the @FullTimeMeals Instagram page