Bulwell school chef in the running for Chef of the Year title
A chef bringing South Asian flavours to a Bulwell school is waiting for things to hot up in the School Chef of the Year competition.
Kumar Murugan, who works at Rufford Primary School as a chef supervisor, is in the running for LACA’s School Chef of The Year title after being nominated by Nottingham City Council’s catering service Eat Culture – Nottingham Catering.
Bringing authentic flavours into the school meals, Kumar is creating a mildly spiced South Asian delicacy, reflect his background and where he comes from.
Kumar said: “I think a South Asian dish will really enhance the school menu.
"I love South Indian flavours and colours in the food and I want to bring some of those flavours into the school food.
“My mother sparked my passion for food and the whole recipe is inspired by her as these are dishes she made, with some of my own ingredients added.
“She was always cooking and enjoyed cooking for family and friends.
"I remember seeing the pleasure it brought her when her food made people happy.”
With a natural enthusiasm for food, Kumar can be found cooking dosas every Saturday from 10am to 2pm on Sneinton Market.
He continued: “While I was growing up, dosas were a big favourite and in India I discovered that every family has their own secret ingredient for their dosa.
So I use my family’s secret ingredient in mine.”
Kumar grew up in India and then went to live in Guyana in South America, when he was 13 as his father was a diplomat.
He was influenced by the South American food and how they use coconut in their cooking.
His knowledge of different flavours also comes from his love of travel.
He went to high school in South America and then came to the UK to study hospitality management at South Bank University.
He started to work as a commis chef in a hotel and worked his way up to senior chef before becoming catering manager for E.On and then joining Nottingham Catering.
He said: “I really enjoy cooking for the children and seeing that they are happy at lunchtime.
This year’s School Chef of the Year competition is sponsored by Quorn and Kumar is creating a delicious and imaginative meal, using at least one Quorn product alongside a 50 per cent fruit-based dessert that reflects school standards.
He said: “It’s interesting to cook with Quorn, if you check its ingredients you’ll find it’s very nutritious and it’s very versatile – you can try so many recipes with it.
"It’s also a sustainable product and helps us to keep dishes plant based, which I think is the way forward.
"The kids like Quorn and there’s so many ways you can cook it in dishes.”
Kumar has been giving the children at school tasters of his dish and they’ve all enjoyed it.
Tara Gilman, deputy head, said, “Kumar is very enthusiastic about his work and keen to get children’s feedback on what they like and don’t like.
"Having joined us in November he is a new member of staff, the children like him and find him easy to talk to.
"I wish him all the best for the competition and hope he does well.”