A BRIDPORT chef has spoken of his pride after his delicious school meal recipe was recognised with a top award.

Local Food Links (LFL), an independent caterer that supplies 3,700 meals a day to 55 schools across Dorset, Somerset and Devon, has been awarded a Gold Taste of the West Award for its Smokey Sausage and Bean Cassoulet and Sunshine Rice. LFL Bridport kitchen manager Ashley Painter devised the recipe which will be featured on school menus next term.

As a dad as well as a school meals chef, Mr Painter understands the importance of making food appealing to children. He is also keen that children know where their food has come from and that they experiment with new tastes. His menu combines a farm to fork story with locally sourced ingredients to create a delicious one-pot meal incorporating a five-a-day rainbow of vegetables.

Mr Painter, who was a BBC Chef of the Year 2019 finalist, said: "I am very proud that we have been awarded a Gold Taste of the West award. We know that children love sausages and beans and I was keen to transform these familiar and favourite flavours to encourage them to fall in love with vegetables and think about local produce.

"We are lucky to live in a fantastic food producing area and we must support our local businesses in these challenging times."

Local Food Links has also been recognised as one of the Top 100 social enterprises in the NatWest SE100 Index 2020. Chief Executive Caroline Morgan said: "We’re proud to be a business for good and look forward to all our schools fully reopening when it’s safe to do so – Pupils are in for a treat with this award-winning dish."

78 per cent of Local Food Links' ingredients are purchased from Dorset suppliers, with 95 per cent from south west suppliers. Across their menus all meals are compliant with The School Food Standards, all meat is British, all fish is Marine Steward Council certified and all eggs are free-range.

They use local, seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, wherever possible.

Schools interested in working with Local Food Links should contact caroline.morgan@localfoodlinks.org.uk.


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