From Professional Kitchens to Bright Horizons Social Media
Date: 21 Jan 2019
I worked in professional kitchens for almost a year before pursuing a career in marketing, and, a few years on, I’m now the Social Media Executive for the Parent Marketing team at Bright Horizons. So, you can understand my excitement at being invited to cover the social media surrounding the Bright Horizons Chef Cook-off last year at Brakes. It was the best of both worlds – social media marketing and brilliant cooking! It was an incredible day and having only been with the company for a couple of months beforehand, it was a brilliant insight into how the Food Group within Bright Horizons operates, and the quality they strive for in their recipes across the nurseries. It’s no surprise that many of the nurseries have achieved the Action for Children Accreditation for their menus.
The main thing that stood out to me during my day with these incredible nursery chefs is their passion and ambition for excellence in the food they make. Every single chef in the competition focused on quality ingredients, taste, nutrition and – surprisingly – presentation. Yes, their daily critics might be just 5 years and under, but that did not affect the pride in their cooking – quite the opposite!
It was clear that everyone had carefully thought about the nutritional balance of the ingredients, the ease of replicating the recipe in the nursery, and – most importantly - the flavour. Never in a million years would you have thought these individuals were ‘just’ nursery chefs. Cooks in the educational sector risk being labelled as ‘dinner ladies’, with all the negative connotations that surround that term. No, no, they were clearly passionate professionals with a clear vision of what they want to create in their nurseries and pride for what they plated up. The standard was exceptional and it made me miss the buzz and banter of professional kitchens. (Not that the marketing team are any less fun, of course!)
It made me think about the food I used to get given as a child. My Mum was a stay at home Mum, and that meant I went to playgroup some afternoons with friends, but I’ve never attended a nursery. The food my Mother made was nutritionally balanced – give or take a few too many biscuits – but it was often just slopped on the plate (with love I might add) and we typically had the same meals on a weekly rotation. Until the Chef Cook-Off, I never thought I’d missed out by not attending nursery, but at the end of the afternoon, when I’d packed a number of Tupperware boxes with beetroot brownies, I thought maybe I’d have had a much better understanding of healthy eating earlier on in my life had I attended a Bright Horizons nursery.
Managing the social media for the company, I have a unique insight into how parents respond and engage with the brand. When posting content about last years’ Creative Cooks Enhancement, I was delighted to read the number of comments from parents saying how their children eat better than they do when at nursery, and even asking for recipes to recreate the nursery meals at home! If that isn’t recognition for the great work the chefs do, then I don’t know what is! I’ll also add, you might well want to follow our Instagram page, where every so often I’ll post one of our nursery recipes on Instagram stories!
It made sense to enrich Creative Cooks further by inviting Annabel Karmel in on the fun, and as a result, we were able to provide every nursery with recipe cards from her book ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’. She even visited Barnes Day Nursery and Preschool for a cook-off with 4 brave little chefs – all of which did a brilliant job at recreating her blueberry muffins. This year our Creative Cooks Enhancement will see another social media competition with prizes from Annabel Karmel, so keep a close look on our Facebook page.