Can Cook, Will Cook with Marco Pierre-White

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group photoPluss were absolutely delighted to join the amazing chefs from Horizon college, Justin Tomlinson MP and Marco Pierre-White at our joint 'Can Cook, Will Cook' event in Swindon today.

The event was designed to recognise the skills and talents that people with disabilities and health conditions can bring to business, particularly in the catering and hospitality sector

The event, hosted at the Marriott Hotel in Swindon, was held in partnership with Horizons College, a specialist facility for young adults aged 19-25 who have severe or profound multiple learning difficulties and complex needs.

The event was kick-started with a cooking demonstration from four Horizon’s College students, and popular YouTube chef, Fred Finch, aka The Shaky Chef. Fred Finch, who also has his own cookery book, explained how he didn’t let his mobility issues prevent him from doing something he enjoyed and that he hoped he could inspire other people to be given opportunities.

Around 50 representatives from various businesses, including McDonald’s, WHSmith, Pets at Home and organisations including The Chamber of Commerce and Jobcentre Plus, watched Fred and the group make Eton Mess with a twist – using raspberries instead of traditional strawberries.

The team of aspiring chefs also made ‘chicken with dirty rice’, and both dishes were very well received by guests who had the opportunity to sample them at the end of the event.

The event was supported and attended by celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White, who provided the recipes used by the Horizon’s College students. After the cookery demonstration he spoke to the audience.

group photoGuests also heard from a young man with autism, who has been working with Marco Pierre-White, and how being in the workplace had built up his confidence; helping him realise what he could achieve. He also urged employers to take a chance on people with disabilities, and help them fulfil their potential.

Matthew Morrison-Clarke from Enterprise Works, who has seen his business benefit from employing people with disabilities, passionately explained how hiring someone with a disability is good for business - citing their enthusiasm, commitment & loyalty, and how it can make a business more attractive to potential customers and partners. He also highlighted how some disabilities can often be an asset to a number of roles. He gave an example of a young deaf girl, whose deafness meant that she had developed excellent non-verbal communication skills, which enabled her to communicate well with elderly people who might also be hard of hearing.

Justin Tomlinson MP said, “It was inspiring to hear from the young people at Horizons College who have demonstrated that it’s about the ability, not the disability. I was very proud to help organise this event, allowing the students to showcase their talents to potential employers. Nationally, more than 600,000 more disabled people are now in work than in 2010, and right here in Swindon we are leading the way, with great enthusiasm from the local business community.”

Gemma Commons, a pupil at Horizons, commented, “It went really amazing today. Eton mess is one of my favourites. I think Marco Pierre White liked my dessert. My future dream is being a chef.”