The Southern Co-operative's Create and Cook Competition nurtures young talents, promotes local food and healthy eating and provides accessible industry role models, leading to work experience and job opportunities.
- Developed links between schools and businesses and created work experience and rural job opportunities. Every winner was offered a day’s chef work experience.
- Demonstrated a commitment to local food education with more than 50 schools registered across three counties in 2014.
- Supported school cookery workshops, cultivating skills and encouraging learning.
- Raised the profile of The Southern Co-operatives commitment to their Local Flavours range which now has 1,200 product lines.
- Supported co-operative principles of working together with like-minded organisations for mutual benefit to build better, stronger communities where The Southern Co-operative trades.
- On the basis of known press cuttings, the Create and Cook Competition generated £13,500 of publicity (equivalent value of advertising).
“ This competition provides an excellent platform for educating the next generation about the importance of these issues. The standard of entries increases each year and I never fail to be inspired by the creativity of the dishes produced and the talent of the finalists. To be a winner of this competition is a significant credit to a young person’s ability and their future employability. ”
More than just a competition, this programme educates young teenagers about local food, challenging them to think not only about why it is important to buy local but also why the healthy eating should be a priority. It also develops links between schools and business creating work experience and local job opportunities, with every winner offered a day's work experience as a chef. Finally, it supports and profiles local businesses by promoting local food producers and as a result, provenance, seasonality and sustainability to teenagers and a wider audience.
“ I learnt that hard work and dedication can be very rewarding. ”
Management of this programme between two different companies proved an advantage ratehr than a problem.. Fit2Cook founder drives the campaign while The Southern Co-operative sponsors it. Each year both organisations review the competition to improve it year-on-year, agree on the budget and monitor its success.
“It’s a great experience being in a cookery competition and when you are young it often gives you the confidence boost you need to pursue cooking as a career. [Competitions] are great fun but they can also lead to work opportunities”, Steven Edwards, BBC TV Masterchef: The Professionals winner 2013, regional final judge 2014.