Former Edge Hill University student serves up success with school cookery business

An Edge Hill University alumnus has swapped pencils for pans after leaving his teaching role to set up his own cookery business.  

James Deveney, from Bolton, graduated in 2015 with a Primary Education degree and worked as a teacher for three years before feeling inspired to cook up his own business teaching culinary lessons to school children.  

The ‘Classroom Kitchen’ is part of James’ wider education business which tours around schools across the North West and Yorkshire, to equip chefs of the future with the skills necessary for cooking healthy, nutritious meals.  

Talking about what inspired his career change, James said: “The course at Edge Hill inspired my vision for bringing learning to life and to not just cover the bare minimum. While it’s easy to slip into bad habits and go for the easiest approach, I wanted my pupils to take away useful life skills from their sessions in class. Whilst I lived by this belief during my years as a teacher, I always felt like there was room for improvement and wanted to really make a difference.  

“It is because of what I learned at Edge Hill that I took the extra step and am now fulfilling my dreams of making sure I give children life changing skills and the knowledge to eat well, stay healthy and live happy lives.”  

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Classroom Kitchen Online was established and is currently providing schools with video-led cookery lessons, online activities and nutrition presentations as an alternative way to develop children’s food technology skills. 

And the future looks bright for James, as he is set to turn up the heat on his business – branching out beyond schools and exploring opportunities to add new areas of the curriculum to his business.  

James said: “I am proud to see so many schools embracing Classroom Kitchen as part of their curriculum, so now feels like the right time to scale things up to keep that momentum going. We have already started to work on a number of community projects, including the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust and an over 70s loneliness campaign, and doing this has encouraged sports organisations, youth zones and health companies to show their interest. As a result, I will be adapting my product, so it is suitable for third party licensing. I am also working on a new programme which would make modern foreign languages easily teachable in all primary schools and allow me to add further strands to my wider business. Watch this space!”  

Offering tips for budding entrepreneurs looking to start up their own business, James said: “Don’t worry too much about your ability and experience when you’re starting out, it’s having the passion, enthusiasm and drive to succeed which counts most. Take every opportunity to get your foundations strong and learn to love your business, everything will come easier then.” 

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