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Sittingbourne-based chef awarded for teaching cooking to ex-homeless people

PUBLISHED: 15:51 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:52 23 April 2018

Chef Mike Spackman in the kitchen at Riverside's The Quays, Sittingbourne

Chef Mike Spackman in the kitchen at Riverside's The Quays, Sittingbourne


Mike Spackman has won the Cook of the Year award in the BBC Radio Four Food and Farming Awards

Healthy eating on a budget is a mantra of chef Mike Spackman and his passion for cooking nutritious meals is not only making a big impact with homeless people in Kent but it has also won him a top BBC award.

Mike is a regular in the kitchen of The Quays hostel in Sittingbourne, run by Riverside Care and Support, where for the past nine years he has been teaching former rough sleepers the art of cooking healthy meals at little cost.

The former teacher, who works for a charitable initiative called the Community Chef Project, changed career paths and went to catering college to become a qualified chef. He takes his food truck all around Kent, visiting community events, schools, street corners, and parks to educate people to eat healthily on a budget.

Mike won the national title Cook of the Year in the BBC Radio Four Food and Farming Awards, and The Quays had a hand in helping him win the coveted prize.

Mike says: “Competition judge Allegra McEvedy came to The Quays and saw me in action, cooking food with residents. We prepared lunch which was shared with everyone at the hostel - it was packed, with around 60 people eating and socialising.

“I went through two rounds of judging then at the awards evening I was up against two other finalists, and couldn’t believe it when they announced I’d won.

“Judges praised my work and the positive impact it’s having in the community, as well as making a difference to people’s lives,” explained the grandfather from Romney Marsh, who was nominated anonymously.

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