rootsTop chef cooks up a storm with youth from Community Roots allotment charity

A team from the Community Roots charity project in Southampton cooked up some tasty dishes last week using their allotment produce, with the Head Chef of the White Star Tavern, as part of a skills workshop hosted by the Ideal Foundation.

The Community Roots initiative is a therapeutic horticultural scheme designed to support those who are marginalised by society. Managed by Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS) and The Ideal Foundation, this volunteer led project uses veg growing on allotments to teach horticultural skills, reduce stress and feelings of isolation, nurture friendships and build communication skills.

On Tuesday 2nd August, participants from the project attended the skills workshop, hosted by The White Star Tavern Head Chef, Matt Noonan. The talented chef showed the team how to create a selection of tasty treats using the allotment produce, including Sea Bass with tomato stew and a Roast Kohlrabi & Swiss Chard dish. He introduced the team to a working professional kitchen and gave them valuable advice on how to break out of their vulnerable situations and gain a foothold in the hospitality industry.

Oliver Weeks, Managing Director said: “We are delighted to be able to use The White Star Tavern’s kitchen facilities and Matt Noonan’s considerable talents to support the Community Roots project. The volunteers do a fantastic job and, as passionate believers in the benefits of fresh produce and sourcing locally, we’re delighted to be able to support them and offer our help to the participants, giving them a taste of the hospitality industry.”

Ideal Collection owns six restaurants across Hampshire, including The White Star Tavern in Southampton.  As the number of restaurants has grown, now employing over 160 local people, Matthew Boyle, owner of Ideal Collection wanted to give back to the local community. So, in 2013, The Ideal Foundation was born and since then has raised nearly £42,000 for local community initiatives. Community Roots was the foundations’ first project and the relationship continues to grow with new opportunities like the skills workshop taking place.

Oliver continues: “Next steps for the participants is to complete their level two certificate in food hygiene. Then, in late September which is harvest time at the allotment, we’re inviting them back to The White Star Tavern to create a Community Roots Relish. The chutneys will be available in all our Ideal Collection venues and 100% of donations will be given back to the project.”

The White Star Tavern is located on Oxford Street in Southampton and offers true Hampshire dining. Its ethos is ‘keeping it local’, sourcing local produce, employing local people, offering apprenticeships and using local, independent contractors and suppliers. Awarded two rosettes by the AA, the restaurant prides itself on offering excellent quality food, supporting its staff and giving back to the community.

Find out more about the Ideal Foundation and Community Roots initiative at: