TV chef Nigella Lawson to open Sunderland’s Life Kitchen cookery school for cancer patients
TV chef Nigella Lawson is to serve up a special occasion in Sunderland.
The star has been an enthusiastic supporter of Washington food writer Ryan Riley and his charity Life Kitchen, which works with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The treatment affects the sense of taste and Life Kitchen teaches its students how to prepare meals they can still enjoy.
Ryan was inspired to start the charity after losing mum Krista to cancer five years ago, at the age of just 47.
No longer being able to taste food was one of her greatest fears when she fell ill.
Now Ryan has transformed the grade-II listed Mowbray Park Lodge in Mowbray Park into a new national Life Kitchen cookery school - and Nigella Lawson is coming to the city to officially open it on Tuesday, June 4.
Ryan is delighted his friend is making the trip to Sunderland.
“I went round for dinner at her house and we were talking about it,” he said.
“She is obviously a very, very busy woman, but she said ‘Let’s do it,’ so I sent her a list of dates.
“She has paid for herself and her management to come up - she has just been fantastic.”
Ryan has been astonished with the transformation of the lodge.
“We have only been in for 12 or 13 weeks and it has been transformed into this wonderful space,” he said.
“The school isn’t just going to be for the North East - it is for everybody.”
Ryan has been supported by dad Shaun and North East Business and Innovation Centre social enterprise manager Kevin Marquis in setting up the new venture.
“Ryan was offered the chance to open a cookery school in London but we were determined to do it in Sunderland,” said Shaun.
“Nigella is an extremely busy lady but she has found the time for our little event in our town.
“We are very grateful for all the support we have had - Sunderland City Council for letting us have the building, McAlpines for bringing all their sub-contractors in and Paul Humble, of Turner & Townsend, who has been brilliant.”
Kevin helped Ryan set up the new social enterprise.
“He came to us to see if we could help with development of a business plan,” he said.
“We were able to help him with the legal structure necessary for a Community Interest Company.”