Last Monday we were truly humbled when we took a visit to Adswood primary school to collect their food reviews in published form.
Let me explain…
Three months ago we invited ten children from Adswood primary school for lunch. The kids were members of an after school creative writing club. We offered the full experience, around 15 courses, and treated the event as if they were adult, paying guests.
We wanted to offer members of the prevailing generation a chance to connect with food and each other. To show, in our own way, the importance of a balanced diet, responsible choices concerning the provenance of food, an insight into how food is farmed and how creativity brings further excitement to a meal and also to show the importance of taking time out to sit around a table and converse with friends or family, sharing in the bounties of all of the above.
What we got that day was a lesson in our own conduct, the flavours we set out to create, the design and feel of the room, the stories we choose to tell and how we choose to tell them. The honesty and sensitivity received off these guests was refreshing and I failed to see where the preconceived notion of the ‘child in a fancy restaurant’ made them in any way a more unsuitable candidate for dining than their older counterparts. In short. We had a lot of fun.
On the day of the lunch the teacher told us that they would all write a review and that maybe, when completed, we could pick them up from the school in a morning assembly.
And so Gemma and I found ourselves stood in front of 360 pairs of expectant wide eyes. A miniature sea of crossed legs and faces cupped in hands waiting to hear why and how the restaurant came to be and the only answer that seemed to make any sense at the time was that my Gran had been a lousy cook.
After assembly we were led, by the reviewers into a classroom where we sat together. They presented us with compilation of their work, the stark reviews of their lunch with us that day. We’ve had a few big reviews from nationals where the lead up to print day has sent me over the edge but holding this book in my hand and feeling the eyes impress on me was a real test. Both parties knowing that soon the truth would be uncovered.
I don’t know why I was so surprised by their writing talent. We seem to forget the raw state of our early creative stages as we battle later in life for originality but the reviews were written so well and were so honest. The little nuances that they picked up on, some that are in the design of the restaurant’s working but some new and only pointed out by them were pretty overwhelming and Gemma and I started to get a little emotional reading.
Adswood primary school is awash with colour. Around every corner there’s inspiring art work, paintings , sculptures and models. There are projects and activities that spin outside of the standard curriculum. Next time I visit I am promised I can help look after the chickens. The learning spaces are little hubs of activity and precedent is not put on keeping still with fingers on lips but rather the needs of the individual to be able to learn and absorb. Have they rested enough? Eaten enough of a balanced diet? Are they in the correct head space? There is a consistent, but discreet check in with everyone’s positivity and supportive procedures to keep everybody in the right place to learn and grow.
I would like to thank, any of the students or teachers reading this, for their incredible hospitality and warm welcome, for showing us your place of work and the systems that get you through the day. And also for visiting us and reminding us that what we do is not for any particular accolades or does not have to be configured to any type of guest or confined within ‘fine dining’. It is for fun, to learn and to stretch our own imaginations. Your reviews will reside on the lounge for all our guests to enjoy.
We have had too much of a good time with this project to just let it lie. We will be repeating ‘School Dinners’ on a monthly basis from October 2019. Schools from all over greater Manchester can apply to come and eat lunch with us. Get in touch by emailing email@example.com and bring your appetites.