3 minutes Inspiration

On the Range with Andrea Thomson

As passionate about chefs having the independence to create from scratch as she is about nourishing the next generation of children, it’s no real surprise that the quality of the food and drink has dramatically risen since Andrea Thomson took over as Catering and Hospitality Manager at Oldershaw School.

Based in Wallasey, Oldershaw School has been educating in The Wirral for over 100 years. Having successfully worked for one of Oldershaw’s feeder primary schools, Andrea Thomson was tasked with completely overhauling their food and drink philosophy, taking catering back in-house. After three months spent getting to know the school, the kids, sourcing suppliers, creating menus and training staff, the school’s first in-house menu launched in April 2022.

“We’ve still only been up and running in-house for 18 months so we’re still learning but I’m incredibly proud of our team and the results we have achieved. On our first day, we took £653 in the tills and now our sales are up to £1,400 a day,” said Andrea.

“Previously, the menu seriously lacked variety – it was pretty much cheesy bean baguettes and pizza, and the main dishes that were on the menu had little uptake. Now we scratch cook wherever possible and have three exciting concepts – all offering freshly prepared dishes. Our restaurant focuses on classics likes fish and chips and roasts, our deli provides sandwiches, snacks and salads, and then our newly built Dr John’s restaurant provides the ultimate, on-trend street food, whether it’s smoky pulled pork, nachos, burritos, katsu curry or burgers.”

After completing catering college in 1986, Andrea worked for a selection of restaurants and hotels before taking a role as a pastry chef at Cambridge University. Following seven successful years, Andrea headed back to The Wirral to start a family before taking a role managing the catering for a local primary school in 2003.

“I loved every aspect of my early career but it’s funny, as soon as I started cooking in schools, I knew I had found my place. I just love cooking for children. Quality food is so important for their development and for many children in The Wirral, the school meal can be their most important meal of the day.”

“Flapjacks and brownies are two of my specialities but we will always try and offer a different cake each day. The Country Range cake and muffin mixes are essential for this as they can be used in so many different ways. The cookie dough pucks are another great product.”

Chicken Balti Recipe:

Minnie, my next in line makes this from scratch using an assortment of Country Range spices and store cupboard ingredients. It’s one of the top sellers and a great example of how the right dishes can nourish, while also ensuring kids are excited about meal times and have a positive relationship with food.

Please click here to view the Chicken Balti recipe.