Big break for cookery school team

Janet Coghland and Simon Lilley with the cake
Janet Coghland and Simon Lilley with the cake

Cookery school head Janet Coghlan fulfilled a very special commission this week, when she created a designer cake for the 80th birthday celebrations of the Born Free Foundation’s Virginia McKenna.

But the day nearly ended in disaster when the foot-high chocolate centrepiece – in the shape of the Born Free logo complete with gold leaf leopardskin markings – snapped in half on the journey down the M1.

“We heard something land with a thud and after a shocked silence we pulled over to the services so we could inspect the damage,” says Simon Lilley, head chef of the Sheepbridge-based cookery school.

“My heart was in my mouth but we were lucky – it was a clean break and I’d taken a repair kit along.”

On arrival at London’s Savoy hotel, the head pastry chef showed them into the specialist chocolate workshop where a couple of hours’ work restored the decoration to its original glory.

“It survived the manhandling on to the stage for Virginia to perform the cutting to lots of oohs and aahs and we were all relieved that the evening went off so well,” added Simon.

Simon and Janet had made 12 extra versions of the chocolate ganache cake, so all 400 guests could enjoy a piece. The evening raised around £400,000 for the Born Free Foundation.

Janet has been a supporter of the charity since she was mauled by a caged tiger at the age of 12. Last year she launched her own brand of Tiger J’s chocolates to raise funds for the cause.