Posh School Dinners event saw students teaching Mercury’s team

More than 100 guests converged on a £38m school, which was developed as part of Hull’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, to watch Mercury battle it out against one of its clients in a charity cook off.

Hull charity The Smile Foundation benefitted from a unique collaboration between students at Winifred Holtby Academy and the staff from the developer behind BSF, Hull Esteem Consortium, and Hull-based marketing agency Mercury Design and Marketing.

The theme of Posh School Dinners was adopted for the Devil’s Kitchen charity event, which was the 33rd of its kind to have been organised by the Smile Foundation. It was the first time one of the competitions has been held at a school and students are central to its success. The charity is in its fifth year of running the events which have helped to generate over £300,000 for local charities.

Over the past few weeks, Food Technology students at the Midmere Avenue-based school, in Bransholme, north Hull, perfected the recipes for the meal served up by Esteem and Mercury to their invited guests. The students played a key role in guiding the two participating teams in preparing food for the event. At the end of the evening, the food was given a score and guests paid whatever they thought it was worth – with all funds (£1,700) going to the charity.

Entertainment for the candle-lit evening was provided by talented members of the school’s music department. Guests posed for “school photographs” on arrival in Mercury’s old school photo booth and they were given crayons to doodle on the table cloths with during dinner. The meal included the likes of Bubble and Squeak and mini retro school puddings. Guests were also treated to entertainment from Mercury’s fire eater and stilt walker, as well as an actress dressed up as a Victorian style headteacher – handing out detention cards to those who slouched during their dinner!

Kelly Taylor, director of Mercury, said: “We were delighted to take part in this unique evening, raising money for the Smile Foundation in the process. It was a very unique and rewarding experience to actually work alongside students on an event of this nature.”

Sam Whitaker, chief executive of Hull Esteem Consortium, said: “I love cooking but being in the kitchen with colleagues is certainly a different experience. We’re used to working under pressure, but it’s been great to see team members out of their comfort zones. The fact that it was in aid of such a worthwhile cause really motivated us into pulling out all the stops to impress our guests and raise as much money as possible.”

Andy Barber, charity manager from The Smile Foundation, said: “Devil’s Kitchen events are a great way of having some fun while raising charity funds. On this occasion, it’s also a great opportunity for some very keen students to develop their skills. We are really grateful to Winifred Holtby Academy for hosting the event.”

Anita Hoy, extended learning co-ordinator of Winifred Holtby Academy, said: “I am delighted the school was given the opportunity to host the Devil’s Kitchen event for The Smile Foundation, which does some really important work in Hull. It’s a unique opportunity for our students to take part in an event that is so worthwhile and I am proud of their contributions to both the food, the entertainment and the evening overall.”