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Norma’s Kitchen in South Wootton, Fakenham’s Black Shuck Distillery, Holkham's Bay Store, Two Magpies Bakery in Wells - Lynn News Friday Feast

Friday Feast's Sarah Hardy meets cookery teacher Jenny May of Norma’s Kitchen who's determined to get children into the kitchen

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Jenny May, the creator of Norma’s Kitchen, and I’m based in South Wootton. I love good food, and believe everyone should be taught how to cook from an early age.

Jen May, Norma's Kitchen
Jen May, Norma's Kitchen

Where are you from and where did you train?

Originally from Bedford, I graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in design and qualified as a teacher a year later.

My first teaching job was at Downham Market Academy where I taught engineering and graphics, but as I had always been interested in food, when the opportunity arose, I also took on some food technology classes.

Norma's Kitchen
Norma's Kitchen

Who has inspired you?

Everything changed when I watched Jamie’s Dinners, a television series in which chef Jamie Oliver looked at the state of school meals. I was inspired to do whatever I could to educate children about the importance of good food and nutrition so that they could make healthy choices as they got older.

Tell us about your teaching life?

Jen May, dough
Jen May, dough

In 2015 I moved to King’s Lynn Academy and set about making the food department an exciting place for students. GCSE Food became a popular option and as part of the course I arranged visits to local food producers such as Mrs Temple’s Cheese and Whin Hill Cider as well as annual trips further afield to Borough Market in London. During lockdown I ran a weekly online Friday Night Dinner demonstration which received a great response from not only the students but also their families.

Have you ever worked in a professional kitchen?

During this time and in order to learn more about a professional kitchen as well as embracing my love of good food, I started to work, part time, as a chef at Congham Hall.

Jen May
Jen May

Why is it important that children learn to cook?

Teaching in a secondary school opened my eyes to the fact that very few students had done much, if any, cooking at primary school and yet they derived a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction from their lessons, and many had even started cooking at home. I fully believe that every child should be given the opportunity to cook and learn about nutrition, and we know that those who do are more likely to enjoy a healthy adult life.

What made you leave high school life?

Two Magpies Bakery, Rebecca Bishop. Photo: India Hobson
Two Magpies Bakery, Rebecca Bishop. Photo: India Hobson

It was with this in mind that last summer I took the leap and set up Norma’s Kitchen, named after my nan. Like most grandmothers of her generation, she was a fantastic cook and some of my happiest memories are sitting in her kitchen tucking into shepherd’s pie and Bakewell tart - nobody made pastry like her. Norma’s kitchen was my favourite place to be so the name seemed appropriate and I know that it would make her smile.

What do you do in primary schools?

In order to share my passion and engage children in the joy of cooking I have targeted local primary schools and run a number of after school cookery clubs all of which get fully booked. I am also focusing on whole class cooking during the school day and one headteacher who has seen the benefit of this approach is the fantastic Mrs Earl from South Wootton. So far, I have cooked a Greek Banquet with Year 4 and a WW2 lunch with Year 6. The days can be linked to current topics and are cross curricular as cooking involves ‘real’ maths, science and language.

Two Magpies Bakery
Two Magpies Bakery

What do the children like to cook?

I have yet to meet a child who does not enjoy cooking and they are more willing to try new dishes if they have been involved in their preparation. A popular dish at my cookery clubs is mini burgers, all homemade including the bread rolls.

Anything else we need to know?

Apart from working in schools, I continue to work part time at Congham Hall and also cater for private events. I have two children of my own who love to cook and enjoy good food.

Where do you like to eat out?

As a family we like to eat at the Three Horseshoes in Grimston, and for the best fish and chips we always head for Snettisham beach. For a very special occasion, my husband and I love the Neptune at Old Hunstanton.

• www.normaskitchen.co.uk

Food News

Schnapp It


Have you tried the new Schnapps range from Fakenham’s Black Shuck Distillery? Four flavours, all made with real fruit, are available - strawberry and lime; passionfruit and lime; coconut and pineapple; and banana and toffee.

The Schnapps can be drunk as a shot, used in a cocktail or as a mixer for a longer drink, maybe with fizz!

They cost £32 for a 70cl bottle and £20 for a 35cl bottle and are available online and from The Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton and Beers of Europe at Setchey.

Smell The Coffee


There’s a great new lifestyle store and coffee bar in Holkham, called The Bay Store and Coffee. It is the fifth store belonging to Martin and Sarah Billing, and stocks local interest books, home and body fragrances, stationery, doggy delights and great takeaway coffee and cake. What are you waiting for?

Spreading Their Wings


Two Magpies Bakery is opening a branch in Wells just as founder Rebecca Bishop launches her debut cookbook called Two Magpies Bakery - Stories and Recipes from the Heart of East Anglia.

The cookbook has more than 100 recipes to try, from celebration cakes to sourdough loaves, with plenty of helpful tips along the way. It costs £26 and is published by Headline. The Wells branch opens on the quay on May 15.

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