Mushroom Stroganoff with sour cream, organic beef stew and herb dumplings, roast pork loin and red onion gravy, Cajun vegetable pittas.
The mouth-watering choice sounds straight off a restaurant menu, but school dinners like these have led to a west Yorkshire school catering manager being shortlisted for the Cook of the Year title at this year’s BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards.
Tony Mulgrew, who took charge of catering at Ravenscliffe High School and Sports College in Halifax two years ago, is one of three cooks to be shortlisted in his category – and is the only school chef to make the final.
Supported by a team of four kitchen staff, Mr Mulgrew cooks 150 lunches a day for pupils and staff. The school caters for pupils with a wide range of SEN and has 138 pupils aged 11 to 19 on its roll.
Mr Mulgrew, who began his career as an army chef and later worked in hotels, restaurants and pubs, moved into school catering in 2001.
He starts work at 7:30am and cooks three-course school dinners from scratch for between 80 pence and £1 a head. He prides himself on using fresh ingredients and locally sourced, organic meat.
Fresh soup is available everyday, along with a selection of hot dishes, sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes – but no chips. Instead, the Ravenscliffe team offers potato wedges, sprayed with olive oil, covered in herbs and baked in the oven.
Keen to get the students’ feedback on their food, Mr Mulgrew always helps to serve the school dinners himself.
“I am constantly asking students what they think and I take all their comments on board,” he said.
“I was very taken aback and humbled to be shortlisted for this award. It’s fantastic that people recognise the work we are doing.”
The winners of the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Bristol on May 1. CAPTION: Shortlisted: Tony Mulgrew with his four-strong catering team at Ravensliffe High