We chatted to our new Community Chef, Maurizio (pictured below, centre), about his role at St Luke's and the launch of our new Community Cook and Share initiative.

Why did you apply or what attracted you to the community chef post?

I used to work at John Lewis as a chef and I then covered maternity leave as the catering manager at St Luke’s, which I loved. Then this role came up and I know I wanted to apply for it as the job looked very exciting. I have previously worked in the St Luke’s cookery school with children, as a cookery school teacher delivering cooking classes. I love St Luke’s, love the people working here and the people attending the classes. Working at St Luke’s, you feel you have the opportunity to give something back to the community. 

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

To see what a change you can make just by teaching people about food, seeing the smile on their face when they have created something from scratch. For example, recently we cooked an Afghan feast with refugees from Afghanistan - they could not believe they could do something like cooking in a cookery school and were so happy!

Tell us something about where your love of food comes from and how you got involved in cooking?

I am Italian so food is in my blood. My mother and grandmother were excellent cooks, and I used to spend more time in the kitchen then in my bedroom when I was young. We were always cooking and eating together as a family. I've always been around food. The first food I ever cooking, I can still remember this, was a fried egg when I was seven years old, cooking breakfast for my mum.

What’s your favourite food /cuisine?

I love food in general. Can’t you tell? This is a very difficult question, there is so much food I think is great to eat. If I had to pick something I would say Japanese cuisine in general – and if I had to pick one dish it would be mushroom and truffle risotto – Italian style! 

We were very pleased to recently receive funding from Cheapside Business Alliance for a ‘Community Cook and Share’ project. Can you tell us what this involves and what you have done so far?

St Luke’s is delighted to receive funding from Cheapside Business Alliance for a project called Community Cook and Share, a new adult community cookery course at Central Street Cookery School which involves teaching local residents how to cook delicious, low-cost and healthy meals that can be repeated and adapted at home - participants take recipes and a bag of ingredients to make the dishes home with them. At the end of each course participants will receive a recipe book, certificate and will also come together to celebrate and share their new cooking skills at a community feast. 

We also have plans in place to provide regular community feasts using food donated from food waste partners Felix Trust and City Harvest – the perfect opportunity to cook, socialise and enjoy the wonderful indoor and alfresco dining spaces at St Luke’s Community Centre.  

In addition to this course the funding is enabling St Luke’s to deliver community cookery classes to different groups including families, our Men’s Shed and the Women’s Multi-cultural Group.

To sign up for the next cookery course please email.