A CELEBRITY chef has lent a helping hand to a community cook.

Helena Rusek, a community cook from Maryfield Convent Residential Home, in Hook, has learned how to make the most of surplus food donations and minimise food waste after taking part in the Tesco Community Cookery School with Jamie Oliver,

Maryfield Convent Residential Home is one of 7,000 charities and community groups to receive free surplus food from Tesco stores via food distribution charity Fareshare, under the supermarket’s Community Food Connection scheme.

The Tesco cookery school, launched in January of this year, helps to provide community cooks with the food knowledge to make use of whatever is in the donations that arrive at their kitchen door – whether it is a bumper donation of seasonal produce or more unexpected ingredients.

During the course, cooks learn everything from knife skills and nutrition to recipes for versatile base sauces, which can be adapted to compliment a wide variety of donated food.

Training is free and attendees receive cooking equipment, plus a folder of the celebrity chef’s recipes.

Speaking after completing the course, Helena said: “I would like to say thank you so much to Tesco for the opportunity. It was a brilliant day. We had lots of fun learning new skills and it was good to share stories with other recipients of the Fareshare initiative. I came back buzzing with new ideas and started using the recipes straightaway. Our residents loved the results.”

Jamie Oliver said: “This is exactly what this programme is all about – learning new skills in the kitchen that can be passed on, all while helping to fight food waste.

“We want to give loads more amazing community cooks the confidence to create delicious, balanced meals from food that would otherwise have been thrown away. It’s about empowering charities with the knowledge and tools they need to help those who need it the most.”

Martyn Lee, Tesco development chef, said: “Tesco has donated more than 60 million meals’ worth of surplus food to date, but it wouldn’t have reached those in need of a good meal were it not for local community cooks like Helena. I hope that Helena took away a lot from the course and will put her new-found cooking knowledge to good use, while continuing her great work at Maryfield Convent Residential Home.”