Getting together with family and friends over good food and conversation is, arguably, one of the greatest joys of life, and it was this simple pleasure that united nationalities in our boarding houses in a special ‘Around the World’ cooking week. This was just one of the many activities the boys enjoyed as part of The Boarding Schools’ Association’s National Boarding Week.

Chinese Co-ordinator and language teacher, Dr. Aurora Chen was the inspiration behind the week of international cuisine, aiming to showcase regional, and seasonal, food to boys in our boarding houses.

Dr Chen explained, “I feel that our boys are fortunate living and studying along with peers who come from different cultural backgrounds. Apart from receiving a first-class education in Bedford School, it is critical that prior to university boys gain some life skills such as cooking.”

Dr Chen was delighted when several members of teaching staff jumped at the chance to lend support and cook up some dishes from their own cultural backgrounds. The idea was also expanded to encourage them to talk about the cultures behind the cuisine and about the boys’ experience as UK boarders while they cooked.  

First up was School Chaplain, Mr McCleery and Lower Sixth Former Jason Ni who, cooking their dishes simultaneously in the kitchen at Burnaby House, prepared dishes from their respective home countries. Mr McCleery, who is from Edinburgh in Scotland, cooked up baked egg made with crab from the Orkney Islands. This was followed by Scottish Tablet, which is similar to fudge, made from sugar and condensed milk – all washed down with lashings of Scotland’s popular pop, Iron Brew. Jason cooked up Cantonese Pork, a traditional recipe in which the pork is left to marinate in ginger, garlic, spring onion and sugar.

In Pemberley House, English Teacher Ms Bassa paired with Head of School Andy Wong to share culinary delights. Ms Bassa showed Andy how to cook Patiwala cakes, which are traditionally made to celebrate Eid after the long period of fasting during Ramadan. They are made from pastry, cake batter and jam, and served hot. Eid is enjoyed with friends and family, and a lot of delicious baked food! In return, Andy, who is a quarter Thai, prepared the most delicious mango sticky rice whilst sharing fond memories of house barbeques and Friday evenings in the boarding house. He said, “It’s great the way we always praise each other in the house. ‘Man of the Week’ is something we all look forward to.”

Pao de Queijo, a Brazilian cheesy bread was on the menu for maths Teacher, Mr Jones, who explained that he has spent a lot of time in Brazil with his Brazilian wife and her family. Mr Jones told us, “I love learning about other cultures and this cooking session highlights to me how lucky we are in the boarding houses to have such a diverse group of staff and students with such differing life experiences. I know how life-changing living and working in a different country can be and it makes me smile thinking about what our boys are going to experience together during their time here.”

Mr Jones was joined in the kitchen by Lower Sixth Former Kolia Sorokin from Russia. Kolia wanted to take part, because he enjoys exploring other cultures and comparing how different their lives are to his. He also really enjoys cooking. He told us, “Sharing recipes enables you to really understand other people’s cultures, as food provides a great insight into their customs and traditions. Apart from learning to make some excellent Brazilian snacks, I also learnt a lot about the Brazilian culture and how different it is to the English and the Russian ones.”

Finally, Mr Ruta, who is half Italian, shared his grandmother’s Tiramisu recipe in exchange for the most scrummy looking omelette rice cooked by Remove Former, Shiryu Oshiro. Shiryu, who is from Japan, enjoys boarding as it gives him the right balance of down time and study time, which enables him to focus better and this has taught him to become a much more independent learner.

We captured the four cookery sessions in this short film, which was shown to all boys across the school during assembly, which we hope inspired them to try a few of the recipes themselves and hope that you will enjoy watching too – but be prepared to be very hungry afterwards!

To celebrate National Boarding Week, the four boys involved would like to raise money for Bedford Foodbank. If you would like to show your support, you can contribute here.  

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