We’re delighted to see the Hackney School of Food in the running for two design awards.

It’s a regional finalist in the Civic Trust Awards 2021 and on the shortlist for the Hackney Design Awards – voting closes on the 26th November so please get online and vote for us if you can.

The school, set within the grounds of Mandeville Primary School – part of the LEAP Federation – opened earlier this year and offers seed to spoon classes to the local community and children free of charge.

In 2019, we joined forces with LEAP and architects Surman Weston to transform what was an underused building and area of school grounds into an environment where children could access high quality food education.

The Hackney School of Food also functions as a training hub for school chefs and we offer paid classes to businesses and for private hire. Other schools can also benefit from the classroom.

Pictures courtesy of ClickClickJim – Jim Stephenson

The Hackney School of Food has a vegetable garden, orchards, beehives, woodfired oven and a purpose-built cookery classroom where children learn to grow and prepare fresh produce for meals.

Louise Nichols, Exec Head at Mandeville, Gayhurst and Kingsmead Primary Schools, said: “We’re delighted to be shortlisted for these awards. We’re very proud of The School of Food. The gardens were mud-heaped, covered in brambles, a dumping ground for old footballs and inhabited by foxes not so long ago, and it’s all blossomed into a productive oasis and a site for children to learn all about food.”

The classes on offer include cooking over fire, making pizzas in the wood-fired oven, learning basic kitchen skills – such as knife skills, butchery and vegetable prep, plus a focus on the field-to-fork ethos where students learn to grow the food they eat.

Nicole Pisani, Co-founder of Chefs in Schools, said: “The School of Food is a wonderful space for children to learn, for the community to come together to cook and for us to train the school kitchen teams of the future. We’re so happy to see it on the shortlist.”

Key to the kitchen’s success is that it can be used comfortably by five-year-old children, as well as the tallest of adults. Surman Weston designed and developed height-adjustable cooking and washing stations, composed of simple, off-the-shelf components.

Percy Weston, Director of Surman Weston, said: “This has been a truly rewarding project to work on and we’re proud to see it on the shortlist. We know that the educational and wellness benefits of Hackney School of Food will be transformative for the community. We have worked carefully to reinvent the site to create a joyful setting that fulfils the ambitions of the project. The architecture is an enabler for a great cause, and it’s been a pleasure to contribute our expertise to a project with far-reaching impact.”’