Cook books her place

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
Opinionated piece by Jamie protege has right ingredients for teaching, reports Graeme Paton

She caused a stir in a national newspaper by lambasting the sexist attitudes of leading chefs.

Now the story of Elisa Roche, one of the team of unemployed young people taken on by Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, to staff his east London restaurant, Fifteen, is to be a talking point again - in GCSE and A-level classes.

The 26-year-old launched a stinging attack on male chefs at some of the capital's "less liberal-minded" restaurants, while on a work placement away from Fifteen.

"The guys in the kitchen referred to me in the third person," she wrote after spending a month at Eric Chavot's two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge.

"They gleefully gave me the filthiest jobs, gutting the fish, peeling the artichokes, blow-torching feathers off chickens.

"They would spill vats of stock in the fridge and get me to clean up the 'accident'."

Her article is now to appear in print, courtesy of educational publishers Carel Press.

Even though she had never been published before, Miss Roche's writing will sit alongside pieces by JK Rowling and Bill Bryson in a volume of some of the most influential authors.

The journal, Essential Articles, which is published every two years, is intended to provide teachers in GCSE and A-level English, social studies and general studies with examples of opinionated writing.

Miss Roche's entry appears unedited, despite being liberally laced with swearing. "I remember sitting in English classes, moaning, groaning and almost falling asleep," said Miss Roche, who attended Alleyn's private school, Dulwich, south-east London.

"It is wonderful to think that something I wrote may end up being used in classes at my old school or Jamie's old school to help get pupils a little bit more interested in English."

Miss Roche was employed at Fifteen after answering an advertisement in her local JobCentre and beating thousands of would-be chefs in an audition.

She was under the camera's eye, and Jamie Oliver's tutelage, for almost six months, and also completed work experience at three other restaurants, including the Capital Hotel.

Miss Roche said her article was aimed at Mr Chavot's junior staff, not the head chef.

"I am surprised but flattered that my article is being used unedited. I wrote it exactly the way I would speak," said Miss Roche, now a trainee journalist with Express Newspapers.

Chris Shepherd, editor of Carel Press, said: "It seems to be characteristic of the catering industry. Chefs cannot say two words now without swearing.

"It is always a bone of contention whether to leave in things like swearing. Some schools think it is acceptable, others do not. But ultimately it is up to the teachers whether they use a particular article or not."


Win a meal at Fifteen, 8

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