Dagenham dinner lady’s food ‘could be served in fine dining restaurant’
PUBLISHED: 12:53 13 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:06 13 February 2015
A Dagenham dinner lady feels “uplifted” after winning a regional award for her orange, kiwi and strawberry fruit pizza dessert.
Michelle Boddy was told her food could be served in a fine dining restaurant at the London final of the School Chef of the Year competition yesterday.
The “highly commended dessert” award went to the long-standing chef from Ripple Primary School in Barking, after her shortbread and fruit feast impressed the panel.
“I was shocked that I won at all,” said Michelle from Dagenham Heathway.
“I knew it was a good dessert because it was child friendly so it appealed to judges. It won because of its appearance and nutritional value.
“I feel really uplifted. Something like this makes you feel good about yourself.”
The regional heats took place at Lewisham College yesterday where Michelle battled it out against five other finalists.
They had an hour to prepare their dishes before judges arrived and the presentations started.
The 45-year-old, who has worked at the Barking school for the past 11 years, said she wanted to make a meal which was inclusive for everyone.
“I spoke to a professional chef afterwards and his feedback was that he could serve that in a fine dining restaurant - and I came up with it.
“I was nervous, not because I wanted to win but because nobody wants to be last after all the effort you’ve put in.
“If I’ve taken anything from this it’s inspired me to take part again – and I guess it’s made me think more creatively in the kitchen.”
Michelle started as dinner lady because the hours suited her while her children were at school and she’s worked her way up to chef supervisor.
She said she’s seen the menu change a lot over the past decade, adding: “It’s much healthier now and always cooked from scratch rather than frozen items.”
The School Chef of the Year award is organised by the Local Authority Catering Association.
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