Karen Wickens

Karen Wickens

Nursery Cook

My name is Karen and I have been Lemongrove’s cook from October 2015. I started my career in cooking when I became a kitchen assistant in a primary school when my own two children both started school. For the first eighteen months I was the ‘washer upper’ as it was back in the day when Turkey Twizzlers and such like were served to the children, so only one cook was needed to tray up and make sauces and cakes, etc with packet mixes. Then Jamie Oliver stepped in (not literally to our kitchen but into the spotlight), to change the food that school children were being served. From then on, all the food was prepared from fresh ingredients and for the next seven years, I was baker of bread, cakes and biscuits and prepper of fresh fruit and vegetables. Over the following seven years, I gained knowledge and confidence and was given my own kitchen to run. This was a smaller school for secondary aged boys with emotional and behavioural problems – challenging and rewarding in a different way. I was there for three years but as my two children were older and I was not needed so much at home in the holidays, I started to look for an all year job and luckily, I saw Lemongrove’s advertisement for a cook – so that’s how I came to be Lemongrove’s cook.

I started my career in cooking with a good old-fashioned ‘O’ Level in Home Economics. I have since attained an NVQ 2 in catering and hospitality and Level 3 award in Supervision Food Safety in Catering. I have maintained to keep the Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene rating of 5.

I very much like my days at work because I enjoy planning menus, cooking and love spending time with all the children. If I’m not in the kitchen, you will find me in one of the rooms having a play! I also enjoy working with all the ladies at Lemongrove – it’s a great support network.

I always try my best to create a varied menu for the children and to make everyone happy from breakfast through to teatime.