Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 15.21.29Teesside school pupils were treated to an extra special lunch this week while they learnt the tricks of the trade from one of the country’s top chefs at Rockliffe Hall near Darlington.

The Orangery’s executive head chef, Richard Allen, was joined by 20 children from Conyers School in Yarm to share with them his advice on cooking and the hospitality industry as well as introduce them to some more unusual foods.

The year 9 and 10 pupils were also treated to a ‘school dinner’, prepared by Richard, which included chicken in a wild mushroom sauce and chocolate mousse with strawberries and popping candy.

Richard and his team in The Orangery will be welcoming a number of local schools to The Orangery over the coming months as the restaurant works with the local community to encourage young people to consider hospitality and catering as a career option and also to introduce them to more unusual dishes and ideas of how to grow certain foods in small spaces.

Richard Allen was appointed executive head chef of The Orangery in January and is one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs, having held a Michelin star from 2011-2014 and three AA Rosettes for eight years. He also has two of the highest industry accolades to his name- the Cateys’ Head Chef of the Year 2012 and the Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Chef of the Year 2012.

Since taking over as executive head chef of The Orangery, Richard has developed a new menu featuring a host of new dishes which make best use of seasonal and regional produce, as well as some from Rockliffe Hall’s 365 acre estate.

Speaking about working with local schools, Richard said: “It’s so important that we constantly seek the next generation of chefs, front-of-house staff and sommeliers. The catering and hospitality sector offers so many great options for young people and we want to work with local schools and colleges to prove that. What’s more, we want to share with them an unusual school dinner using some of the ingredients that we prepare dishes with in The Orangery as well as those that we gather from our grounds.”

Louise Spellman, headteacher at Conyers School, said: “We are delighted that our students have been given the opportunity to sample wonderful cooking in such beautiful surroundings. The students are all studying food technology at Conyers and this provided great inspiration for them. Many of our students are considering careers in the hospitality and leisure field and to visit a luxury venue such as Rockliffe Hall demonstrates that there should be no limit to their ambitions.”