Boris Johnson commends Sunderland chef who create recipes to help those with Long Covid enjoy food

Boris Johnson has praised a Washington chef who created recipes to help people who have lost their sense of taste because of Covid to enjoy food again.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 5:11 pm

Award-winning chef Ryan Riley, of Washington, and Life Kitchen co-founder Kimberley Duke have been commended for their free recipe book Taste & Flavour, saying in a Downing Street letter – which was written on his behalf – that their hard work in helping others to ‘maintains access to one of life’s great pleasures: a home-cooked meal’.

In 2018, Ryan set up his Life Kitchen cookery school for cancer patients in Mowbray Park after nursing his mum Krista, who had terminal cancer, and seeing the impact the illness and treatment had on her tastebuds.

Before the pandemic, the cookery school offered free lessons to people who had lost their sense of taste due to cancer or other illnesses and Ryan even published best selling cookbook Life Kitchen – before releasing a Christmas cookbook in December 2020.

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In April 2021, alongside Life Kitchen co-founder Kimberley Duke, Ryan turned his expertise to helping people who, although they have recovered from Covid-19, are still suffering from loss of taste after the disease.

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The award-winning chef uses ingredients and textures designed to combat the loss of taste and smell.

Funded with the help of Sunderland City Council, the 54-page cookbook ‘Taste & Flavour’ contains 18 specifically-designed recipes aimed at addressing Covid taste loss. It also includes a foreword by Dr Barry Smith, Life Kitchen expert and advisor to HM government, who is a world-leading expert on taste and flavour deprivation.

Left: Ryan Riley has been thanked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) for helping renew his interest in diet and cookery

The book was distributed to 3,000 residents across Sunderland and is free to download online – and Ryan also sent copies to all Government departments.

A letter from Downing Street on behalf of Boris Johnson says the Prime Minister has taken a ‘renewed interest; in diet and cookery after his recent personal experience with Covid-19.

The letter says: “Many of us known someone who develops anosmia or parosmia through their life, whether due to chemotherapy, coronavirus infection or injury and the impact can be life-changing.

"The Prime Minister was extremely touched by your back-story and your coming to cookery as a teenager to tend to your mother when she was sick with lung cancer.

"Many people will related to the difficulties you have highlighted and your imaginative and thoughtful contribution to modern gastronomy is a testament to your upbringing.

"Preserving the joy of cooking for those who have lost their sense of taste or smell maintains access to one of life’s great pleasures: a home-cooked meal.

"You have shown the nation a great kindness by making your hard work free-to-access online and I would like to salute your ingenuity."

Posting on Twitter, Ryan said: “I sent ‘Taste & Flavour’ to all government departments, this morning I got a letter from Boris’s office saying because of his personal experience with covid he’d taken a renewed interest in diet and cookery and that we have shown the nation a great kindness by making it free.”

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