• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

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New partnership for Smile For Life Children’s Charity and top chef Kenny Atkinson proves just the right recipe

THE NORTH-EAST’S top chef has joined forces with Smile For Life Children’s Charity to help support disabled youngsters – and is kicking things off by setting his own BAKE OFF challenge.

Kenny Atkinson, owner of Michelin-starred House of Tides, has just been appointed a patron of Smile For Life and believes businesses need to do more to help youngsters with disabilities and learning difficulties to succeed in the world of work.

His first step as patron has been to organise a ‘Bake Off’ for three lucky young people, who will be trained to bake and then have their creations judged by the man once named ‘Chef Of The Year’.

The competition will take place over two dates; Tuesday 12th September and Tuesday 19th September, where the students – who have a range of disabilities – will taught a recipe on the first date and bake their creations to be judged by Kenny on the second.

It will coincide with the eighth series of the popular show The Great British Bake Off, which kicks off on Channel 4 on Tuesday 29th August.

Kenny, who has appeared on the BBC’s cooking shows Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen, says he is looking forward to working with Smile For Life and passing on his expertise to the students.

He said “I don’t have a lot of time, so the time I give I want to invest wisely.

“I wanted to do this Bake Off challenge as it’s using my skills as a chef and hopefully passing some on to the young people who will take part. It will be a very challenging and rewarding experience.”

The father-of-two recently visited the charity’s Café Beam in Gosforth to see first-hand how disabled youngsters are supported to get real-life work experience in the café.

He added: “Café Beam really helps integrate young people with disabilities into society, it gives them a purpose in life and helps ensure that their disability does not mean they are a second-class citizen.

“Being here is so heart-warming, you can see the difference the charity makes to these young people. I have supported a lot of charities in my time, but Smile For Life is different. Because it is a small, local charity you know exactly where the money and support is going.

“I really want to raise awareness and support for Smile For Life so that people can see the amazing work that they do here in the north east. I am happy to support something on my doorstep that is close to my heart.”

Kenny, who has sons Aidan, 8 and Aaron, 11, with his wife Abbie, wants to see more government support for employers to hire staff with a disability.

He added: “Businesses need to be supported to employ people with disabilities by the government – they are capable of work. It is about education and understanding, giving the business and the public the confidence to believe in these people.

“My apprentice food runner at House of Tides has a learning difficulty and he is amazing, he works so hard. He has been with me since the beginning but is leaving soon to go into the RAF and I am very proud of him. I want my staff to progress and fulfil their potential, whether or not they have a disability.

“A lot of people from Café Beam have great skills, they are trained baristas and should be able to go anywhere with these skills if employers have support from the governement.”

Kenny hopes that his partnership with Smile For Life will not only benefit youngsters with disabilities, but also raise awareness of just how employable these people are.

Paula Gascoigne, Chief Executive of Smile For Life, says she is delighted to have the award-winning chef on board.

She said: “For us this is a perfect partnership. Kenny is passionate about cooking, giving young people life-skills and raising awareness of disabilities, Smile For Life and Café Beam encompasses all of these things.

“We are so excited to have a Michelin-starred chef as patron, it is a great feat for a small charity and offers fantastic opportunities for the young people to learn from a great cook.

“The Bake Off will be a great way to use Kenny’s skills to benefit some of the students we support and have a fantastic experience.”

The Bake Off will take place at The Church of the Holy Nativity Church, Chapel House, Newcastle, where a pop-up Café Beam is held every week.

The cakes will be sold off at the church pop-up cafe once the judging is over on Tuesday September 19th.

By admin