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School grub's up at Pestaurant

Rentokil's Lunch Club educates students on entomophagy with an insect-based feast to aid learning for new GCSE

Posted by Julian Owen | December 07, 2017 | Catering & hospitality

A new initiative at Hackney’s Clapton Girls’ Academy brings a new meaning to the term ‘school grub’. 

Andy Holcroft - head chef at Grub Kitchen - served a gourmet menu of edible insects to students and staff at Clapton Girls’ Academy as part of Rentokil’s Pestaurant Lunch Club, designed to promote entomophagy (the act of eating insects). 

Starters on the Pestaurant Lunch Club menu included black ant and cheese pâté on bread, alongside a cricket and cauliflower pakora. If that wasn’t enough to whet appetites, students were given a choice for their main course of either a gourmet burger with crunchy mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers, or a ‘garden tart’ with mealworms and spinach puree, as well as garlic-infused grasshoppers and peppers. 

Rentokil’s Pestaurant is a global pop-up event which has staged hundreds of entomophagy experiences across dozens of countries over the past five years. The Pestaurant Lunch Club’s visit to Clapton Girls’ Academy was to meet students studying for the new AQA ‘Food Preparation and Nutrition’ GCSE, examinations, which will be sat for the first time in 2018. Part of the specification requires students to learn about food provenance, environmental impact and the sustainability of food, which is where entomophagy could play a part. 

Although 80% of the world’s nations consume insects regularly, many Brits are shocked when they are offered creepy crawlies on a plate. But, with the world’s population continuing to grow exponentially, and predicted to total 9 billion by 2050, eating insects is increasingly recognised as a way to fight world hunger and encourage sustainable living. 

The Pestaurant Lunch Club provided students with insights into why entomophagy is so critical to environmental sustainability. Livestock takes up almost 45% of the world’s land mass, and is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming – in fact, cattle around the globe produce more methane than cars, planes and all other forms of transport combined. By encouraging attendees to try insects and think about incorporating them into their diet, the event served to remind students of the ways they can reduce their impact on the planet. 

Berwyn Evans, UK Product Manager, Rentokil Pest Control, said: “The Pestaurant Lunch Club is a great way to help educate students on the huge range of insects consumed globally. Many of the students were surprised at the delicious taste of the bug-based dishes they tried. 

Insects such as ants and locusts, which are usually considered a ‘pest’, already provide a rich and sustainable form of protein to over two billion of the world’s population. At Rentokil we believe it’s extremely important to help spread the message of the importance of entomophagy, and through combining Pestaurant with our online learning platform ‘myLearning’, we hope to help educate the younger generation.” 

Andy Holcroft, Head Chef at Grub Kitchen, said: “It’s not difficult to make a tasty meal using edible insects. In fact, many of them take on a lot of the flavours of the other ingredients they are cooked with, and once garnished provide an excellent accompaniment to sweet or savoury dishes. You can be really creative with the way insects are incorporated within a meal and they can be used to provide texture, crunch, and decoration or even used in the form of insect flour.   

The students also learned that the addition of insects into a recipe delivers extra nutritional value, as they tend to be high in protein, low in fat and are packed full of B vitamins, zinc and other essential minerals.”

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