In pictures – Willenhall students get cooking with Italian chef Gio

A group of Year 9 students from E-ACT Willenhall Academy took part in a professional cooking experience this month. Willenhall students Hannah, Bradley and Sam spent the day with Italian chef and entrepreneur Gio.

Together, they made chicken and spinach filo parcels with mushroom sauce, accompanied by homemade courgette, tomato and pesto cream pasta. To top it off, they all made the traditional Italian coffee-based dessert tiramisu.

The experience was sponsored by AF Blakemore and Son Ltd, which provided all the ingredients, and two of their representatives also came along. AF Blakemore and Son Ltd says it is one of the largest and most forward-thinking family-owned businesses in the UK.

It began life in 1917 as a counter-service grocery store and has grown from these humble beginnings into a company that employs more than 7,000 people and has a turnover of about £1.3bn. Food and drink has always been the lifeblood of AF Blakemore, and today, the business has divisions spanning across the retail and wholesale distribution sectors.

The experience the students took part in was a pilot designed by Gio, aimed at offering school students professional kitchen experiences. At the end of the session, Gio presented each student with a certificate of participation and their own apron to take home with them.

Mr Tim Marston, the headteacher at Willenhall E-ACT Academy, said: “I am delighted that some of our students were chosen to take part in this fantastic pilot. I am keen that all young people get to try out different things, develop new skills and find out what they are great at.”


Location: Walsall, West Midlands