Following his appearance at the Ypeople conference, Jack the Kettle Chef explains the inspiration behind his innovative project.
Food experts are constantly telling us how important eating well is to our general health. But factors such as cost, preparation time and cooking skills can have a big impact on the quality of the meals we eat.
As someone who was homeless for several months, Kettle Chef Jack has first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to prepare nutritious meals when money and facilities are in short supply.
“About a year ago, I found myself homeless and had a spell living in temporary accommodation. One of the many challenges I faced was the lack of good cooking facilities and what that meant for my ability to make healthy meals.
“As a chef, I know how important a balanced diet is to good mental and physical health and how difficult it can be for people living in temporary accommodation to eat properly.
“That’s what gave me the inspiration for Kettle Chef, the idea being able to create recipes which can be prepared using only a kettle to boil water and a thermos flask.”
So far Jack has around 14 recipes on his menu including cheese and tomato toasties, mac and cheese and spaghetti bolognese and his plan is eventually to create 30-40 for a Kettle Chef cookbook.
He’s teamed up with Ypeople and Edinburgh-based charities Rock Trust, and Prep Table to create starter packs which will be distributed to people entering their first home as well as to those who are staying temporary accommodation. The packs will include all the recipes, as well as a copy of the cookbook.
“Ypeople and the Rock Trust are helping me find people in their accommodation who will volunteer to try the recipes. Once we’ve got those, and they’ve had a chance to try the food, I’ll survey them to get their opinions.”
Jack has been working as a chef for the last two years but personal circumstances have made it difficult to focus on his career at times.
“I’ve had great help from my mentor, Fiona Donaldson, the founder of Prep Table – she’s my right hand woman! I had a job at a bistro in Edinburgh but I had to give that up due to some health issues and that made me feel like a failure.
“Fiona took me under her wing and really gave me confidence. She’s helped me with creating the Kettle Chef project and, thanks to her support, I’m now looking at setting up my own social enterprise.
“For people living in temporary accommodation, being able to access affordable, nutritious meals can be a big problem.
“I really appreciate the support I’ve had from the local community in Leith so Kettle Chef is my way of giving something back.”
Jack’s determination and skill in bringing this project to life has impressed not only Ypeople and other charities, but also top telling budget recipe writer Jack Monroe is behind the project.
Ypeople taking the opportunity of supplying Jack with some tools, ingredients and branded whites was just one way we wanted to support this project. We have no doubt that the Kettle Chef will continue to go from strength to strength and Ypeople look forward to supporting the project as it continues to grow and support those who need it most.< back