A CHEF cooked up a healthy feast in the hope of inspiring others to be bolder with their cooking.

Rochford chef Martin Buckley presided in the kitchens at the first session of Southend’s St Luke’s Community Chef Programme.

The programme aims to encourage young people and adults to cook healthy food from scratch.

Gareth Gault, who is in charge of the project, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to change hearts and minds about food.

“Yes, it’s the easy thing to put a ready meal in the microwave, but this project can show people how much better it is, and satisfying, to cook fresh meals at home.”

Mr Buckley cooked a healthy stuffed marrow in front of an audience at St Luke’s Church hall, in St Luke’s Road.

He also offered tips on the food itself, where to buy it and how to prepare it with a special emphasis on rice.

Lani Fogarty, 13, was one of the teenagers in the audience.

She said: “I thought the whole 90 minutes was very good. It really did show how people could eat a healthy diet on a budget they could afford, and cook it at home.”

The sessions are being held in St Luke’s hall, at Ferndale Baptist Church, in North Avenue, at the new community cafe in Cluny Square and at Temple Sutton Children’s Centre, in Eastern Avenue, Southend.

Classes at the children’s centre will be aimed at parents and carers, while those in the church hall are intended for the wider community .

The community cafe classes will be aimed at young people, through the Connexions youth service. Organisers are aiming to get a total of 500 people involved in the sessions.