The Big Cookathon

Date: 23 Jan 2019


Sporting and culinary figures have visited a Balsall Common Primary School in a bid to get the village’s next generation cooking and leading healthier lifestyles.

Former Wasps and England World Cup rugby international Paul Sackey, award-winning chef Matt Cheal, and former Olympic and European Championship Medallist Phil Brown, joined more than 600 pupils at Balsall Common Primary School earlier this month for their third Big Cookathon.

Zeena Weeks, Chef and Nutritional Adviser for the England Athletics teams, also provided assistance as classes went head-to-head in a series of cooking competitions at the school on Balsall Street East.

Teams of five students from years one to six were challenged with cooking a ‘speedy biryani’ in just 15 minutes with the help of the special guests, which also included the Mayor of Solihull, Cllr Flo Nash, as well as support from Coventry Blaze, Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel,  Robinson’s Catering, Hogarths Hotel, and GoOutdoors.

Curry paste was provided by Robinson’s Catering and the vegetables were prepared by the catering staff at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel; burners and gas bottles were loaned to the school by GoOutdoors; volunteers from Coventry Blaze and Hogarths Hotel also helped supervise the cooking.

Howard Rose is Director of Funding and Publicity at the Central Schools Multi-Academy Trust, of which Balsall Common Primary School is the lead school.

He said: “The younger that children start cooking, the likelier they are to adopt healthier diets in later life.

“This is our third Big Cookathon and we wanted to show the kids how easy it can be to cook at home and hopefully inspire some future chefs.

“The calibre of guests and the number of students that took part this year is a testament to how the Big Cookathon has grown over the years, and shows that learning to cook and eating healthily is something that we can all really get behind.

 “I’d like to thank everyone who took part in this year’s event, all of our sponsors who donated ingredients, and volunteers from Solihull College who helped make it another great year.”

Paul Sackey, from Wasps’ community team, added: “Making young people understand the effects that different food groups have on our bodies is so important if they are to lead healthy lifestyles in the future.

 “Encouraging them to have a go at cooking healthy meals is a brilliant idea, as by the time they are old enough to choose and make their own meals, they are more likely to consider making healthy choices.

“As a former elite athlete getting the right balance of carbohydrates and protein was essential to help with my preparation and recovery – and is generally a good guide for young people to follow too.”