TOP chef Tom Kerridge learned to cook aged 11, making meals for his younger brother while his single mum worked two jobs to ensure her boys had enough to eat.
It was a childhood that echoed that of footballer and child poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford, whose mum Melanie worked gruelling minimum-wage shifts to feed her five kids.
England ace Marcus Rashford has admitted he has never peeled a carrot, but now he has plans to teach all kids to cook meals that cost pennies
Now the two men have come together to teach the country’s poorest children how to cook simple yet healthy meals, with ingredients that cost pennies.
The idea was born when 23-year-old Manchester United and England striker Marcus revealed he had never learned to cook — and had no idea where to start in the kitchen.
Michelin-star chef Tom, 47, dad to five-year-old son Acer, told The Sun: “Marcus freely admitted, ‘I don’t know how to cook and I want to be able to do it’.
“That’s what makes him such an incredible young man, he’s not embarrassed about having a go and he’s not embarrassed to say he doesn’t know something.
TOP chef Tom Kerridge will be teaching Marcus how to get going in the kitchen — with families across the country following along too
“He’s somebody that wants to learn and he pays attention.”
Tom will be teaching Marcus how to get going in the kitchen — with families across the country following along too — in their new campaign Full Time Meals: Get Cooking With Marcus And Tom.
As part of the initiative they will release weekly recipe tutorials on Instagram, starting with a simple chicken satay dish this Sunday.
Marcus has been a tireless campaigner on child food poverty, raising £20million to feed kids during the Covid pandemic and successfully lobbying the Government to reverse a decision not to provide free school meals during the summer holidays.
The children he campaigns for are kids just like him and Tom were.
Marcus has said he often went to bed hungry as a childCredit: Refer to Caption
After Tom’s parents divorced when he was 11, his mum Jackie supplemented the income she earned as a secretary by washing up in a pub at night.
Tom says: “As a child you don’t recognise the sort of issues that your mum faces.
“Not once did we go hungry. Not once did we ever feel unloved or feel we missed out on anything.
“But looking back now, as a parent myself, I understand how difficult it must have been for my mum.
The idea of teaching kids was born when 23-year-old Manchester United striker Marcus revealed he had never learned to cook — and had no idea where to start in the kitchenCredit: PA
“Working two jobs to make sure we could just have pasta or bread in the house was such a big thing.
“At 11, none of it sinks in and you just get on with it, but as a grown-up, and having conversations with Mum about this project, the truth of her struggle rings very true.”
One in three UK children live in poverty, with an estimated 2.5million in food-insecure households, meaning they can’t afford sufficients amounts to eat, according to latest figures.
Food bank charity The Trussell Trust yesterday revealed it had handed out 2.5million food parcels since March last year — a rise of 33 per cent on 2019.
Tom will be teaching Marcus how to get going in the kitchen — with families following along too — in their new campaign Full Time Meals: Get Cooking With Marcus And Tom
It is a story all too familiar to Marcus, who has movingly recalled the many times he went to bed hungry.
Tom says: “I’m twice Marcus’s age but we have similar backgrounds, growing up with single mums who were out working in the evening.
“Both myself and Marcus find ourselves in an incredibly fortunate position now.
“But that’s why we wanted to use Marcus’s reach and understanding and my skill set to touch as many people as we can.
“While Marcus went out kicking a football, when I got home from school I cooked my brother Sam’s tea.
Top chef Tom Kerridge learned to cook aged 11, making meals for his younger brother while his single mum worked two jobs to ensure her boys had enough to eat
“So we learned different skill sets from similar childhood experiences and had the same sort of understanding of the issues facing families. We gelled really well, he is a truly remarkable young man.”
The pair’s plan is to show struggling families the best way to use the Government’s new Healthy Start vouchers — which provide parents of preschool children with £4.25 per week to buy fruit, vegetables and pulses.
Their recipes feature ingredients that can be bought with the vouchers — including frozen and tinned vegetables, as well as fresh — and common tinned goods handed out at food banks.
Tom as a youngster
Quantities are measured with a mug, in case a measuring jug is not available, and most of the dishes can be made with one pan, a knife and a kettle or microwave. Tom adds: “We want to destigmatise the whole issue of cooking and make it really fun and engaging.
“We want every child to have a go at cooking, irrespective of background. If you’re in a class of 35 kids and half of them get free school meals, we want all of them to say, ‘This recipe looks great, Marcus has had a go at cooking it and Tom’s made the recipe simple and easy to follow’.”
Tom, from Gloucester, adds that Marcus, who is dating childhood sweetheart Lucia Loi, 23, threw himself into the cooking lessons and proved to be a natural.
He says: “Marcus had never peeled a carrot but his knife skills are immaculate. He chopped the carrots beautifully the first time we did the satay dish, he’s got a natural talent as a chef.
Marcus has been a tireless campaigner on child food poverty, raising £20million to feed kids during the Covid pandemicCredit: PA
“We’ve been doing lessons, mostly on Zoom, for three months and Marcus has been cooking more and more at home for his housemates.
“I think he’s trying to win brownie points with his girlfriend, too.”
Speaking of his own early cooking efforts, Tom, who is married to sculptor Beth Cullen-Kerridge, 51, said: “I grew up as a child of the 80s, so I cooked Birds Eye potato waffles, Findus crispy pancakes and fish fingers.
“I did learn to make spaghetti bolognese and I would have a go at rice dishes.
Tom says: ‘As a child you don’t recognise the sort of issues that your mum faces’Credit: Rex
“But for an 11-year-old, just turning on a grill and making fish fingers is still cooking and that’s a skill set many people don’t have.”
Tom and Marcus’s mission is to encourage families to try out new dishes.
Tom says: “People live in fear of the kitchen, they’re uncomfortable with it and they don’t know if something’s cooked or not. They worry about cooking instructions.
“But our recipes are designed to take away all that fear so you can just put it in the oven, cook it until it’s hot and trust your self-instinct.
“I’m trying to teach a basic skill set. Normally, when I write cookbooks or cook on television, I’m connecting with a foodie audience, so it’s like someone who already cycles on a good bike getting tips from Bradley Wiggins.
Marcus and Tom plan to show struggling families the best way to use the Government’s new £4.25 Healthy Start vouchersCredit: Getty – Contributor
“What we’re doing here is teaching people how to get on that bike with stabilisers, starting from the beginning — how to peel a carrot, how to boil vegetables.
“It’s really basic stuff using ingredients like frozen vegetables and tinned potatoes — store-cupboard, budget-friendly, essential ingredients to help create a dish.”
As well as the weekly Instagram posts, with 52 recipes across the year, recipe cards of Tom’s dishes will be available at food banks.
Tom says: “Child poverty is a much bigger picture and there’s so much more we can do. But that’s for people above my paygrade.
Get Cooking With Marcus And Tom tutorials will be posted weekly from Sunday on Instagram feed @fulltimemeals
“I’m a chef and I’m just trying to use my skill set to help people who, through no fault of their own, find money really hard to come by.
“It’s that old adage of give someone a fish and they will eat for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.”
- Get Cooking With Marcus And Tom tutorials will be posted weekly from Sunday on Instagram feed @fulltimemeals.
TOM’S TIPS TO COOK ON A BUDGET
THE recipes in the Full Time Meals campaign use fresh, tinned and frozen ingredients to suit the tightest of budgets.
The tutorials will be available each Sunday on Instagram, but in the meantime Tom gives Sun readers a few tips on how to start cooking from scratch.
HEALTHY Start vouchers can be used for pulses and grains, so tins of pre-cooked lentils and chickpeas are great, or you can buy the dry kind that you just need to soak overnight.
FRESH OR FROZEN
THESE recipes will be a great way of getting vegetables into kids’ diets. And although they call for fresh veg, they also use a lot of frozen vegetables because that way you’re only taking out exactly what you need each time – making it as budget-friendly as possible.
So, frozen peas, mixed grilled Mediterranean vegetables or frozen spinach are great ingredients.
Frozen protein, such as fish and chicken pieces, also make great ingredients at a lower price – and we use those a lot.
STORE cupboard tins, such as tinned new potatoes and soups, form the basis of many of our dishes.
Soups can be used as a tasty pie sauce or pie filling. One dish we may do is a simple leek and potato pie, which is a leek and potato soup, mixed in with tinned potatoes and a freshly chopped leek with filo pastry over the top.
ALL you need to cook many or these dishes is a pan, a knife for chopping and a mug for measuring.
Usually recipes ask for 150g of this and 200ml of that, but we use a mug so you don’t need a measuring jug or scales.
We even make a Yorkshire pudding batter using just the volume of a normal mug.
Also, many of our dishes can be cooked in one pan because many people only own one pan – and it helps with the washing up!
TOM’S FAVOURITE BUDGET MEAL
FOR a quick, easy and budget-friendly meal, my go-to is what we call a “fridge-trimming omelette”.
If there’s not much in the house but we have a few tomatoes, a couple of mushrooms and a bit of leftover ham, or leftover veg, I chop it all together, whisk it with a couple of eggs, bake it in one pan and serve it in the middle of the table.
My little man is only five but already he loves whisking the eggs and making an omelette.