Sheppey Matters Award Winning Community Chef project is now in its tenth year on Sheppey, and is a regular and well-known face to many mums and children following the team’s successful work in Swale’s children centres, local schools, HM prison cluster, village halls and numerous other locations. The team is headed up by BBC Food and Farming Awards Cook of the Year winner, Mike Spackman who started the project in 2008 working out of the back of a white van, now armed with a team of assitant chefs and a fleet of vehicles Mike’s vision for the Islands health is finally coming true. Speaking to the BBC Mike said “I just think it’s astonishing … the very fact that we were nominated in the first place. I was thinking of a children’s film today… children are our life blood, we try to feed them as well as we can, and we try to make it fun and energetic.”
Mike’s close-knit Community Chef team is based in the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. They work with people and communities who are ‘harder to reach’ either by geography or mobility and they demonstrate the enormous benefits of eating well with dishes from all over the world cooked using locally sourced produce from the area’s farms, fisheries and producers. People and food are an intrinsic part of Sheppey Matters Community Chef project. At its heart lies the passionate view that an individual’s health and personal wellbeing needs to be ‘nourished’ in many complementary ways. Food, in all its shapes, colours, textures and aromas, can become a positive and significant part of that person’s life. Nevertheless, however significant that may be, food is but one part of the entire health ‘jigsaw’.
The project’s ethos believes in the empowerment of people through a process of informed choices. It has never set out to make the more obvious references to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food. Equally it sees little point in telling people ‘how to cook’. The project devotes every ounce of its energy to the sharing of knowledge, skills and understanding. It does this by leading people of all ages onto what can become a rather exciting journey!
It spends considerable time listening to the challenges presented to each and every family it works with and hopes, in doing so, that people become more self-confident, self –assured and determined to take care of themselves and their families in the best ways possible.
The Chef project now also has a food truck; this brightly painted vehicle makes its way around the island and rest of Swale bringing good and healthy food to the dinner table.
On top of all this, the Community Chef is also undertaking a training package on behalf of the local job centres to help young people to progress in the catering and hospitality industry. Mike is passionate about making cooking not only accessible but exciting too, an activity that is essential to our well being, whether cooking for one or cooking for the family, Mike and his team can do it all and you can too.
Follow Mike and his team by clicking here to visit their Community Chef Facebook page or contact the Sheppey Matters office for more info.
If you would like to support the work we do then please donate whatever you can via the PayPal button below:
c/o Sheppey Healthy Living Centre
Off the Broadway,
Tel: 01795 585335