Teen chef feeds NHS

Foodie Aaron Wayne, 16, uses his ‘incredible community connections’ to secure kosher food donations and cook them up for frontline workers


 A 16-year-old chef has been hailed as a lockdown hero for using his “incredible connections” to cook up hundreds of delicious free meals for frontline workers.

JFS pupil Aaron Wayne has been spending hours every week cold-calling kosher suppliers, persuading them to donate food - and then producing hot meals for the “You Donate, we deliver” food donation drive.

He’s the youngest chef involved in the network, which first sprung into action last year during the first wave of the pandemic and now donates over 500 daily meals.

The group, which has a hub on Maccabi London’s sportsground, wound down its operations last June and is now back into full gear to support the London Ambulance Service.

Mr Wayne joined the initiative last March but has this year been taking a “more prominent position”, the network’s co-founder Sarah Laster said.

In addition to baking and cooking several times a week, he’s been cold-calling suppliers to ask for donations.

For Mr Wayne, the experience has been like a full time job. “I’m currently finding the balance between my cooking and my school work. When I’m not doing school, I’m cooking or I’m doing my cold-calling for donations. Obviously in the evenings when I’m not cooking I have free time to myself,“ the teen said.

He aspires to work in hospitality and has to this end has garnered hundreds of followers on Instagram (@Aarons_kitchen) and secured a place at a vocational college next year.

“I’m passionate about making sure that people have a warm nutritious meal that will keep them going and being innovative with what is donated and trying to maximise it by bulking it out and getting the most out of the donations,” he said.

Ms Laster, 40, from Radlett, praised his “resourcefulness”, saying Mr Wayne was a “young lockdown hero who’s been making a difference to other people.”

“He’s made contact with all sorts of people. He very rarely pays for the food that he cooks. He’s got everything donated. He’s made incredible community connections.

“He’s reached out to everybody that he could think of, spoken to kosher butchers and had kosher meat donated so he could cook with meat. He’s an incredible young man,” she said.

Mr Wayne’s father Jeremy, 59, a company director and amateur cook, said the experience had been a learning opportunity for his son.

“It will hold him in good stead because he’s learnt how to speak to suppliers,” he said. “He can visualise quantities for 50. He’s very talented.”

To donate visit the You Donate... We Deliver web page.


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