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Tasteful themes

Julia Jones on a cross-curricular Damp;T project.

This year the design and technology department of Sawtry community college took more than 100 students to France to research how different spaces can adopt various atmospheres and themes. We wanted the students to design, manufacture and run their own cafe.

The cafe was to provide a focus for all Damp;T material areas as well as to be the vehicle for other curricular areas - mathematics, science, and humanities - to work together. The cyber cafe the students created had four themed areas:

* the built environment * leisure * communication * travel.

All these areas came under an umbrella theme of time, (indicated by a time line provided by science and humanities). Each area in the cafe was partitioned with boards, which were painted to reflect the themes.

Food technology students came up with menus based on outlines provided by the teachers. Dishes from Greece, Mexico, India, and Italy were created, with a meat and vegetarian option to reflect each country, and Sawtry ice cream for dessert.

Students prepared approximately 400 main dishes and ice-cream portions - a taste of mass production for real. The students, working in teams of five, organised themselves to mass produce their designed dishes. Meals were prepared during lesson time and then frozen. The dishes were then reheated and garnished in the school canteen facilities. Every student who prepared food took the Basic Food Hygiene Certificate, which was tutored by the Met and Livestock Commission.

Graphic products students were in charge of the ambience of each area. They designed the cafe logo, and the partition boards, which incorporated expanded foam and manufactured items including tyres.

The boards were made and put together by product design students, who also made a greeter's stand, the lighting and a 3-D clock as a centrepiece.

Because the cafe had waiter service, there had to be some form of corporate clothing. One major hurdle the textiles students had to overcome was size - clothing had to fit everyone. The solution was to make waist aprons with adjustable ties, T-shirts, and bandanas and baseball caps.

The cafe opened in March for a week, and each night accommodated up to 96 people, who had to pre-book their meal (organised by maths students). Students volunteered to work at least one night in the canteen, either waiting on customers, or in the ICT section helping people use the internet on the school's laptops.

The whole event was a huge success. Guests said they were astounded and thrilled at the atmosphere, service and food provided. The students gained a valuable insight into real Damp;T, while working together to produce a real outcome. And in the process, their confidence was given a tremendous boost, and staffstudent relationships benefited.

Julia Jones is head of food technology at Sawtry community college, CambridgeshireWaitrose@Schools, HSBC, Kitchenrange Foods, and Vitas Vending contributed to the project

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