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Fabrice Teston ‘inspires’ next generation of chefs

27th Nov 2023 - 04:00
After a career in France as a chef, including working in a Michelin-star restaurant, Fabrice Teston is now using his skills and passion to enthuse young people about a career in hospitality in the UK.

The cost of living crisis has seen food prices soar over the past year and, as a result, many people have begun to look for cheaper food with the result that they are often choosing convenient but unhealthy options.

However, Fabrice Teston is on a one man is on a mission to change this, at least where young people are concerned.

The deputy head of food & catering services at Leeds City College, is using his love and knowledge of good food to inspire the next generation to eat well through a range of healthy eating initiatives.

And having worked in the catering industry for more than 30 years, he is able to serve up his ideas with a wealth of experience when it comes to all things food.

“I was a catering teacher for 15 years. I taught school children, college students - basically anyone who wanted to develop their chef and patisserie skills,” he says.

“I always wanted to become a teacher. I knew I wanted to help students to feed themselves better, but also support them in a career with so many opportunities. I have a strong passion for education and food, and my current role enables me to successfully combine both.”

Fabrice believes his passion is rooted in his early student years, when he studied a for patisserie degree in his native France. He honed his skills as a pastry chef in France’s Loire Valley, taking on roles in bakeries and even working in a Michelin-star restaurant.

Even before his move to the UK, his belief in the power of education led him to start to teach aspiring chefs at a college in France.

He then spent a decade as a head pastry chef in Leeds, before he transitioned into education in the UK in 2008, when he became a programme manager in Leeds City College’s Food and Drink department.

He has trained apprentices, commis chefs, station chefs, pastry chefs and bakers.

Now, over the past year, Fabrice’s drive for change has resulted in him moving to the catering team, helping to host various events, including a taster day facilitated by Quorn where students were able to sample the brand’s range of healthy protein products.

“Food is a universal language that can be learned by everyone”, Fabrice says. “I love eating and I love cooking, which is why it frustrates me to see young adults feeding themselves on a diet of chips and pizza.

“We wanted to diversify our food provision and include more plant-based products on our menu, so this was the perfect opportunity. The event was met with a roaring success and resulted in developing a close relationship with Quorn.”

Fabrice’s initiatives also promote sustainability. The college now partners with Surplus2purpose, a company that transforms landfill-bound waste into nutritious meals, to reduce waste and diversify canteen offerings.

This has now become so successful that the catering team are ordering products twice a week to meet the demand of their food outlets.

Then, under his direction, the Smoothie Bike visited the college during National Nutrition Week and students had a go at making smoothies from the fruit waste at Surplus2purpose, giving them an insight into how much waste gets thrown away every day.

Even the small changes he has initiated are having a significant impact. The college now promotes meat-free Mondays at its Quarry Hill campus, offers fresh produce to staff and students, and has even removed sugary drinks and snacks from meal cards.

And he encourages teams to constantly develop new recipes in the kitchens, with a focus on healthier food yet meeting different dietary requirements.

Fabrice is also determined to ensure meals served at each campus demonstrate Leeds City College’s commitment to inclusion.

He says: “With over 120 nationalities using our facilities we have to be able to respond to the demand.”

The drive to encourage young people to eat healthily comes in light of the World Obesity Federation’s latest annual World Obesity Atlas report, which revealed that obesity among children and young people is increasing fast compared to the rate among adults.

“Easy access to takeaways has reduced the need to cook, but it comes at a cost - financially and health-wise. Home cooking is usually healthier and cheaper. In France, we have a saying: you live to eat, you don’t eat to live,” says Fabrice.

“There’s a growing need to teach young people how to cook healthy meals on a budget and reduce reliance on ultra-processed foods.

“The family nucleus has changed for various reasons and not all young people are now shown how to prepare basic dishes by their families. With a bit of support, ideas and tips, we can teach young people how to cook on a budget. These are the skills for life that I am really keen to pass on.”

If you’d like to see Fabrice in action, take a look at his cooking workshop videos on YouTube here.

Written by
Edward Waddell