Birmingham pupils cook with Michelin-trained chef and internet sensation, Poppy O’Toole
1st March 2024
... Comments

The self-titled Potato Queen is the lead of this year’s Health for Life® Cookathon, and joined students at Penns Primary School in Sutton Coldfield for a hands-on cookery demo, whilst 38 Birmingham-based schools took part by following along via a special step-by-step video guide.


Poppy O’Toole, who is also the co-host of BBC Three’s Young MasterChef, designed a special ‘marinated lemon and honey chicken kebabs, homemade flatbreads, salad and mint yoghurt dressing’ recipe for the Cookathon, which more than 3,330 primary school students across Birmingham created at school during the session.


Health for Life, created and funded by Mondelēz International is delivered in schools by Services for Education and has been running in Birmingham for 12 years.


The initiative is designed to encourage healthy eating, physical activity and growing food, with pupils learning how to cook and grow their own fruit and vegetable which encourages them to lead a healthy lifestyle. To date, 175 primary schools across the city have been part of the programme which provides support and funds to introduce facilities and enhance the curriculum to embed healthier lifestyle activities.


Poppy’s delicious recipe isn’t just available to the budding young chefs. Families across Birmingham are also encouraged to get their own children cooking and can create Poppy’s special recipe from home by following the step-by-step video guide online.

This is the third time Health for Life has run the Cookathon across Birmingham, with chefs Marcus Bean and Glynn Purnell previously fronting the campaign.


Poppy O’Toole commented: “I’m really excited to have been involved with the Health for Life Cookathon this year! Getting children involved with and inspired by cooking and healthy eating early on is fantastic for building their life skills and a passion for cooking. Health for Life and the Cookathon inspire the next generation of amazing chefs to pursue careers in the industry – as well as encouraging a life-long interest in growing and cooking food.

“We have such an incredible food scene in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it.”

Helen Lowe, headteacher at Penns Primary School, said: It’s been wonderful to see how engaged and enthusiastic our students were throughout the Cookathon, and to see them put all the skills they have learnt through the Health for Life programme into action. It is vitally important that children learn to cook and eat healthily from an early age, and Poppy truly helped inspire and teach pupils brand-new skills and habits that they will use every day.”


Helen Grundy, education advisor at Services for Education, added: “Health for Life creates such a positive difference to so many children and families across the city, and our Cookathon is a fantastic way for pupils to showcase everything they have learnt as part of the programme.


“We’re extremely grateful to Poppy for being the lead of this year’s Cookathon – not only is the recipe she has created very delicious, but she was absolutely brilliant with the students, and the children loved learning from her! Poppy has helped us accomplish a record-year for the Cookathon, with more than 3,330 pupils across Birmingham joining in for her cook-a-long on the same date, at the same time, which is incredible.”


For more information, and to watch and cook Poppy’s recipe from home, head to



Popular Categories