Experienced chef Harry Matthews has joined the ATLP after a spell as general manager at the Holiday Inn in Great Barr, Birmingham, where he initially began working as head chef before being promoted in 2020.
Prior to joining the Holiday Inn, Harry worked as head chef at Ettington Chase hotel near Stratford and his CV also boasts a stint in Canada working for the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, where he was second chef.
Harry was predominantly based in the hotel’s Bow Valley Grill restaurant, which was the busiest à la carte restaurant in North America at the time.
Harry, who lives in Wednesbury, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to create something from scratch. We have the chance to upgrade everything including the quality of food and service levels.
“The plan is to launch the new menu at the start of the new academic year in September and ahead of that we will be conducting due diligence and working with suppliers to ensure the food that we offer is of the highest quality possible and meets the needs of all of our children.
“I want children to look forward to their lunchtime experience and bring in food education alongside this. Young people need to understand why we eat certain things and when and I believe they should learn about it in a fun and exciting environment.
“My ambition is to make our kitchen teams fully aware of what they are serving and why. Educating everyone involved about why they’re cooking and eating certain things creates an exciting experience.”
Catering has always been ‘in-house’ for Harry, with cooking in the blood as his father was a chef. In his mid-teens, Harry used to go with his father into his workplace and from those days onwards he knew cooking up tasty food was the right path for him.
Harry, who tucked into his new role at the start of this half term, added: “I have always enjoyed working in kitchens. I find it fascinating. No two days are the same and there is always a fresh challenge.
“When I saw the position advertised I just knew this would be a great fit for me. I wanted a fresh challenge and being able to work in the Partnership’s schools is fantastic as it will allow me to provide children with nutritious meals and give them something to look forward to every day.
“This is not about serving up ‘school lunches’. I don’t like that term. We are going to be providing a proper service and dining experience.
“We will be discussing menus and what’s best for children and parents. Children have different needs regarding diets and allergens and parents can feel confident that any queries they have in this regard will be answered in the correct manner.”
Meanwhile, the ATLP is currently recruiting catering assistants to join kitchen teams at numerous schools across the region. Visit Catering Assistants – The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (atlp.org.uk) for more details on how to apply.