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The government-commissioned School Food Plan set out how to improve the food culture & food served in schools. It found school food is much better nutritionally than packed lunches and by increasing the take up of school food, schools not only improve the quality of food the children eat, but economies of scale mean that they can serve higher quality meals, cheaper.

The plan was just that, a plan of action, not a report. When it was published those actions included:

• Free school meals for all infants

• Cooking lessons compulsory for all children up to the age of 14

• New food-based standards for school meals

• A taskforce to improve the skills and status of workforce 


Chefs in Schools puts the theory established by the School Food Plan into practice. 


While writing the School Food Plan with a colleague, Henry Dimbleby (a governor at his children’s state primary school in Hackney) posted a tweet asking whether anyone would be interested in taking over the school kitchen. Nicole Pisani – then head chef at the acclaimed Soho restaurant Nopi – decided to take the gamble of a lifetime, applied and was offered the job by the school’s head, Louise Nichols. 


Since arriving at Gayhurst, Nicole has retrained the school cooks using the restaurant brigade system. They cook everything from scratch and bake bread daily. She has also taken charge of the cooking curriculum, teaching the children to butcher whole chickens and cook over fire pits in the playground. 


This model now operates in the three Hackney schools which are part of the Leap Federation of which Louise is the Executive Head. Here, Chefs in Schools will continue to research and develop what works well in school food.