Oakhill School has risen to culinary heights with the appointment of a Chef to cater for pupils and staff alike. Mark Wilkinson, who joined Oakhill after Easter and has a prestigious résume´ having worked in Michelin starred and famous restaurants throughout the country. Mark is passionate about nutritionally balanced meals and encouraging young people to try new flavours and a very special recipe is causing quite a stir!
His career path is impressive and started at the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Ullswater where he worked for two years post graduating and brings with him the famous ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ recipe. His next posting was with John Burton Race at then 2 Michelin star ‘L’Otrolan’ near Reading. Mark rose from Commis Chef to Chef de Partie in this time. Paul Heathcote and ‘The Longridge Restaurant’ followed and this is where he feels he really honed his skills working with butchery, fish preparation, desserts, sauces and the appreciation of the provenance of local foods.
Meeting his wife Catherine at the Bailey Arms in Hurst Green and starting a family brought about new adventures. Whilst working with his wife in a Blackburn Care Home, Mark was awarded ‘National Chef of the Year in the Care Sector’ in 2007. The arrival of their second child bought another change, this time gaining a Teaching qualification at Harrogate College and ultimately being the teacher there for Level 1, 2 and 3 Professional Cookery. This year their third child was born in January and Mark really wanted to be near home, enter Oakhill and the opportunity to make a difference without working evenings, weekends or away.
At school all the dishes are freshly prepared and some of the favourites appear to be the fresh Fishcakes, the poached Salmon with Dill, Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna and fresh fruit tartlets. Furthermore, Mark has specialist skills in Patisserie and Chocolate work which will come to the fore in September when Oakhill celebrates it’s 40th Anniversary with a Ball catered by Mark and the team.
Everyone is enjoying the benefits of delicious, nutritious food in their school day.