Gourmet food comes to the school canteen

Hampton College new catering facility EMN-160103-163947009

Hampton College new catering facility EMN-160103-163947009

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What Jamie Oliver would make of it is anybody’s guess.

The TV chef captured the public’s imagination 11 years ago with his quest to improve school dinners and make them healthier for children.

Hampton College new catering facility. Zoe Wilkins serving pupils EMN-160103-164212009

Hampton College new catering facility. Zoe Wilkins serving pupils EMN-160103-164212009

But even he would struggle to match the gourmet lunches which pupils at Hampton College get to enjoy every day with curry and roast dinners replacing cold panini sandwiches.

It is all a far cry from the food served up 50 years ago when meat, boiled cabbage, potatoes and cake with custard were on the menu.

At least, that was the food served up to pupils at Medway Community College in Kent in 2004 when they tried a week of 1960s’ cooking to get them interested in healthy eating.

Now though, Cucina Restaurants has replaced Hampton College’s traditional canteen with a team of hotel and restaurant chefs who serve up more than 40 different options to hungry pupils.

Hampton College new catering facility. EMN-160103-164224009

Hampton College new catering facility. EMN-160103-164224009

And the large portions on offer are going a down a treat.

Sunil Panchal (16) said: “I enjoy the pizzas and the currys. It’s much better than it used to be. I used to have cold paninis and they were not that great compared to what we have now.”

Brandon Chilvers (12) said: “I normally play football outside so I grab a pizza slice and a drink. But I did try the roast dinner once and it was really nice.

“Before, break-time was alright but I would not have lunch as it was not nice. There was nothing there.”

Oliver Sainsbury (14) feels his school work is improving now that he is enjoying a good meal at lunchtime.

He said: “It’s much better, there’s so much more variety. The prices are about the same but the quality is much better than before.

“I often get the sandwiches which are a good portion and I really enjoy the curry. I concentrate much more now in afternoon lessons because I’ve filled up and have energy.”

The new school lunches began straight after Christmas with a curry now available for £2.20 and sandwiches ranging from 60p to £2.50 depending on size and fillings.

The college’s executive headteacher Helen Price said: “Since the restaurant opened at the start of term there has been unbelievable excitement throughout the school and take-up rates have soared.

“The staff and students have been absolutely bowled over by the choices on offer.”

Hampton College in Eagle Way, Hampton Vale opened in 2005 as an all-through school to cater for students from Reception age up to Year 13.

In 2014, it converted to academy status and is now managed by the Hampton Academies Trust.

Debbie Williams, business services and projects manager, said: We are delighted that students, staff and visitors are able to enjoy fantastic food and the aroma smelt along the corridor as you approach the dining room is fantastic.”