Paul Rankin opens American-style diner at Sheldon School

This Is Wiltshire: Paul Rankin, centre, with two Ready, Steady, Cook pupils at Sheldon School, Chippenham Paul Rankin, centre, with two Ready, Steady, Cook pupils at Sheldon School, Chippenham

Sheldon School pupils cooked up a storm during a Ready, Steady, Cook session with celebrity chef Paul Rankin who officially opened the school’s new American-style diner this week.

The diner, decorated in cream and burgundy, was designed two years ago by pupils on the school council who opted for a modern look with American high stools.

Building work finished a month ago and, on Tuesday, Mr Rankin - the chef famous for winning Northern Ireland its first Michelin star - took a look round.

Mr Rankin, a cooking ambassador for the school’s catering firm Sodexo, hosted the Ready, Steady, Cook session for GCSE students who created dishes from a bag of local produce.

He spent most of his day there, from 10.30am to 4.30pm, helping to judge a Year 8 cake competition and serve pupils food at the diner.

Assistant headteacher Michael Seeley said: “There was a lot of excitement about the idea of meeting a real-life celebrity chef. The last time we had something similar was when we opened the refectory and Matt Dawson was able to come in – he won Celebrity MasterChef.

“The nice thing about it was he was so good with the students, he has a very easy rapport with young people.

“He apparently has been to the school and does remember it, but that was quite some time ago.

“He made some nice remarks about how he could see a lot of changes, not just in the dining room.

“He gave up most of his day and they took a lot of tips from him. I think they will all remember for quite some time.”

The diner area, at the top of the school, near reception, was built around 15 years ago and the school set aside money from its budget for the refurbishment.

Pupils can choose between meals at the diner or the school’s refectory, by the school hall, which was also refurbished about a year ago.

Mr Seeley said: “It’s a space that’s important for the students.

“It’s important that it’s a good area for them to use. It just needed a bit of modification.

“What’s particularly nice is that this was designed by the students – it was very much what they wanted.”


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