This Tuesday at Camp & Furnace a new food event that produces food with a social conscience.
FRESH! Fabulous Food – A Fresh Perspective, will launch social enterprise Soul Fillers, a new catering company run by people with learning difficulties and mental health concerns.
On the menu: a four-course meal kicking off with a drinks reception before taking a tour around some British classics with plenty of options for veggies – and a carefully-selected music smorgasbord to accompany, including the Mersey Belles, harpist Maev McDaid, roof-raising brass band Hardcore Hornography, and headliners Up for Arts Community Choir.
Nicole Balfry of Zest Event Management, who are helping promote the event, says those attending can expect high-class cooking and entertainment.
“Soul Fillers are cooking, there will be four courses and as well as that there’s going to be live music, so people are really going to get a proper treat.
“They’ve all been cooking together for a couple of months but already they’ve got lots of parties and weddings booked but they haven’t really launched themselves in style yet, until now with Fresh.
The event is a joint enterprise between Moving On With Life & Learning (MOWLL), a Liverpool organisation that promotes the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and Sky Glover of Happy Go Cooking.
Together they are aiming to tear down the pre-conceived notions of those with learning difficulties to show that they can’t just do the job right, but better than the others.
“Other than Sky Glover, who runs the whole catering enterprise, everybody else who works for them has learning difficulties,” says Nicole.
“Usually in the catering industry it’s really long hours and it’s really hard and there are a lot of stereotypes people have about people with learning disabilities, but these guys are amazing cooks.
Sky Glover details the beginning of this journey: “Originally I started Happy Go Cooking, which was to help people cook on budget. I’ve been a chef for years, I was even Ozzy Osbourne’s chef at one point, but I wanted to do something a bit different.
“I decided to set up a catering company and then I met the lovely Heidi and Loretta and they asked if I’d do a ten-week course with their students… I’m still there teaching them now, I love them!”
Sky is certain that the event and social enterprise shouldn’t just be seen as people with learning difficulties cooking, but as people who are genuinely skilled in their field of work.
“All the other chefs I’d been working with around Liverpool just weren’t up to scratch, but my students were amazing, so I decided to set up Soul Fillers. Instead of having just three chefs like you would in some catering companies, we have 30, and they all specialise in different things.”
Sky put paid to stereotypes about people with learning disabilities and how Fresh aims to destroy these notions.
“Society views them negatively and as non-contributors. They view them with prejudice, so Soul Filler’s is leading the way and saying ‘hang on, the rest of you are not tapped in to serious skills and gifts, so let us show you how, and then you can have long term employability for people who are used to being left on the shelf’.”
When asked if it is more necessary than ever now, Sky had this to say: “This has been necessary from the start and its necessary now. People keep talking about things changing, but this has to start now.”
• If you work like to attend the event on Tuesday 28th November at the Camp and Furnace, you can purchase tickets here
By Jamie Tichborne