We were tasked by the Regimental Operational Support Officer, Captain Mak Singh MBE, to assist on Exercise Midlands Speer. This event ran over four weeks by 143(West Midlands) Brigade to show what life is like within the military. It is held in conjunction with the Job Centre Plus, Job Enterprise Training and Stoke-on-Trent College.
The Catering Troop was tasked to feed 40 individuals at the end of March with a lunch, on only a £1.50 a head budget. We also provided a nutritional lecture to the assembled students and of course emphasised that we do catering en-masse but also fine dining for Mess events and other special occasions, giving Chefs a chance to show off their skills.
We arrived at 4 Mercian’s unit lines in Stoke on the Wednesday afternoon to give a brief to the students on calorie intake and then they went off to get their own lunch. We then analysed their choices and gave them feedback on how good or bad their choices were. For a bit of added pressure we had the team from BBC 1(One Show) filming us too!
The lecture went well and after they told me what they had eaten and drank that day and we broke down their meals by nutritional values, showing how unhealthy/healthy it was - most of the students had been going to McDonalds so you can guess the results.
On the second day, after setting up the kitchen, Staff Sergeant Morries, from 237 West Brom Squadron, proceeded to make a healthy lunch for the students as I gave the presentation on Nutrition.
We also took a look at the Operational Ration Pack that we now use on operations around the world and the nutritional value that it gives our troops. The lunch which was served consisted of pasta, minced beef bolognaise, jacket potatoes, salad, vegetables, fruit and yoghurt. The students were utterly amazed at what we have to work with on £1.50 for a lunch meal.
The feedback from the students looking to join either the Armed Forces or Reserves is looking good. Let’s hope these students materialise as soldiers and officers, maybe even some Chefs, of the future!
If you're interested in gaining valuable qualifications as Chef and want to try something different then search online for Army Chef, or pop in to your nearest Army careers centre or Army Reserve centre, for more information.