Norwich City Under-18s had a special night planned on Tuesday, as they hosted a Christmas meal for house parents and Academy staff at Delia’s Restaurant and Bar.
Scholars had been receiving lessons in cooking through the months in its build-up and put their new skills to the test by preparing a three-course meal for house parents and staff as well as joint majority shareholder Delia Smith and the Executive Committee.
Head of Player Care, Clive Cook, was delighted with the evening, saying it was a perfect way to thank those who’ve supported the young players throughout the year.
“It’s a tremendous night, highlight of the year for me," he said. "It’s really important for the players to say thank you to the parents, house parents and staff for everything they do for them. It is particularly for the boys who live with house parents away from digs, because they really are the unsung heroes.
“The way you develop as a person is by being pushed out of your comfort zone, some of these lads tonight were really nervous but early on you could see them growing in confidence, smiling away. By the end of the night they’ll have walked away feeling a lot better as a person that they’ve give something, but they’ve also developed as people.
“If we can’t develop cooking skills with Delia Smith as the owner, we’d never be able to do it! It’s a massive part of their programme. The other reason is that the Under-18s will be going into apartments next year, so we need them to be able to cook because, the reality is if they get home quite tired then we don’t want them ordering pizza or takeaways.
“They need to be able to do some basic cooking and Nigel [Ramsbottom, Delia’s Head Chef] is a fantastic guy, he’s really good around the lads, it’s really added value to the lifestyle programme.”
Whilst some of the U18s could be found working away in the kitchen, others were posted up at the bar serving drinks, with a select few of the squad meeting and greeting guests. Cook said they all chose what jobs they wanted to do and the evening went exactly as planned.
“It’s really interesting, you’ll see some of the lads will gravitate towards their preference, straight away when you ask who wants to be on the bar, you’ve got four or five lads who definitely wanted to do that.
“Some of the more comfortable cooks or shier ones prefer being in the kitchen, then the more sociable ones like Tony [Springett], a first-year scholar, is really confident so wanted to be meeting and greeting. We thought about it in terms of skill-set, and I like to think, so far, we’ve got it right.”
U18s defender Jon Tomkinson spoke highly of his experience of the evening, emphasising the outcome to be the most important thing for the group.
“I think it went quite smoothly, considering most of us aren’t very experienced, we had a couple of accidents, but in the end, I think everyone was quite satisfied.”
“We started with prep, peeling potatoes, carrots, all of that. As we got into it, we started preparing the starters and desserts, so we all played a hand in everything. We all felt like we achieved something tonight.”
“It was fun, stressful at first, but I think everyone had a good time in the end.”
You can watch how the team got on HERE.