All fired up for Food Festival

Gary Bruce (left) and chef Dave Booth run the Fire & Rescue Service cookery course
Gary Bruce (left) and chef Dave Booth run the Fire & Rescue Service cookery course

With just a month to go before Sheffield Food Festival, things are hotting up – and nowhere more than at Central Fire Station, which is to play a key role in this year’s events.

Instead of putting out fires, members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service will be lighting them, to run a series of cookery demonstrations.

But they’ll also be driving home a serious safety message: “People don’t realise it, but 58% of our domestic fires are cooking related,” says community safety officer Gary Bruce.

“It’s about making people safer in their own homes – but we also want to show that you don’t have to spend a fortune to cook healthy meals.”

The project started in 2010 when Gary’s son was at catering college: “I thought it would be good if we could set up some cookery courses that combined kitchen safety with healthy eating,” he says.

He roped in chef and tutor Dave Booth and they have run a number of successful courses in Rotherham.

Now the Food Festival is giving them a chance to spread the word in Sheffield too – and to tie it in with the new Kitchen Nightmares home safety campaign.

The FRS will have a stall at next month’s festival, offering free give-aways and home safety checks. There will also be advice on how to stop your cooking going up in smoke, thus avoiding the ultimate kitchen nightmare.

Meanwhile, the fire station will host a number of have-a-go cooking demonstrations to introduce the six-week cooking courses.

One is already planned for Wybourn in June and more will be arranged if there is sufficient demand.

Says Gary: “In each two-hour session we teach people how to cook two or three healthy meals on a budget of just £1 -£2. We also talk about fire risks such as overloading sockets and leaving pans unattended.”

* Sheffield Food Festival takes place over Spring Bank Holiday weekend, May 24-26.