15 Minutes with Sarah Dugdale
Hi Sarah! Can you tell us a bit about yourself – when did you become interested in cooking and sharing food?
I learned to cook at an early age. My mum was a great home cook – I’m one of 12. My mum used to literally make everything from scratch including making her own bread. She taught us all to cook.
My mum was great at making sure we all sat around the table, even though there were so many of us. It was a time when we all socialised and swapped ideas. When I went on to have my own family, I opened a children’s nursery, and that love of food spilled over into wanting the best for them. I have a nursing background and am aware of how nutrition can affect health.
After my children graduated, I had time to reflect. Someone suggested I enter MasterChef and things have snowballed from that.
I also did a beekeeping course. That sparked my interest in how food is farmed and how this changes the flavour – where the honey is farmed changes the flavour considerably. Where food comes from is so important!
Why is good food important to you?
First, I enjoy eating good food, so it’s got to taste good. Secondly, food can be good for our health, so that’s important. And thirdly, we must consider the environmental impact – how land is farmed and how that affects the environment too. Using local suppliers is important.
What challenges do you think people face around good food?
I think sometimes people have a perception that choosing good quality food is expensive. But when menus are planed properly, it’s still possible to use fresh produce and not waste anything. For example, if I make a Sunday roast, Ill use the chicken carcass to make a stock and make a soup.
It’s a matter of education; many people don’t know the simple things you can do. For example, batch cooking is a great way to make sure you have ready meals in the freezer. It’s better for you because you know where it’s come from.
What are you most excited about getting involved in with Get Togethers?
I think using food a brilliant way of connecting people in the community, especially where people are lonely. Food is a great leveller.
From a social point of view, food is the key to bringing people together.
What are your good food tips?
My number one top tip would be to choose fresh, good produce. Or organise a ‘bring a dish’ Get Together so the burden isn’t on one person.