Chef’s fight against waste

Chef, food activist and author Gill Watson will spread her crusade to eliminate food waste as part of the Nelson Food and Drink Festival.

A larger than life character, Gill has written a fascinating book – “Eating My Words” – about her adventures working as a private chef for super-rich and celebrity clients in London and America. But in stark contrast to that extravagance, she now campaigns to redistribute surplus but perfectly good food, so that society’s most vulnerable can still enjoy a healthy diet.

After returning to her Pendle roots, Gill began working with local families suffering from food poverty by delivering free fruit and vegetables from FareShare and surplus products from the food bank.

In 2014 she launched the Pendle Helping Hands cookery school to help people cook quicker, healthier and cheaper meals.

Gill’s passion also led her to take on the international supermarket chain Lidl. She campaigned for charities to be allowed to take the end-of-day produce from all Lidl stores, and now, with a team of volunteers she collects and distributes produce from Lidl’s Burnley store six days a week.

Gill’s work around food poverty and food waste was featured on BBC TV’s “Inside Out” programme earlier this year and she has recently cooked with the Real Junk Food Project Manchester for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new series on waste food.

With environment artist Kerry Morrison, Gill talks on food poverty, waste and sustainability to schools and community groups throughout the area and her recipes and money saving tips can be found on her Facebook page, Budget Cooking with Gill Watson.

The food and drink festival is in Nelson town centre on Saturday, September 19th.

Gill’s appearance is at 2-45pm when she will take to the stage to talk about her food waste crusade and give tips on cooking simple, healthy and nutritious meals on a budget.

Other attractions on the day include cookery demonstrations by celebrity chef Richard Fox and staff from Nelson and Colne College and the Spice of India restaurant.

A worldwide food market will feature everything from traditional Lancashire favourites to exotic delicacies, giving local producers and retailers a chance to showcase their finest fare. For youngsters, there will be a children’s cake decorating competition and free face painting.

There will also be and henna art, and a dance display by the Punjabi Roots Academy.