Birmingham pupils cook with Michelin-trained chef and internet sensation, Poppy O’Toole

More than 3,000 school children from across Birmingham have swapped their pens for pans and completed a unique cookery lesson with TV presenter, author, chef and internet sensation, Poppy O’Toole.

The self-titled Potato Queen is the lead of this year’s Health for Life® Cookathon, and joined students at Penns Primary School in Sutton Coldfield for a hands-on cookery demo, whilst 38 Birmingham-based schools took part by following along via a special step-by-step video guide.

Poppy O’Toole, who is also the co-host of BBC Three’s Young MasterChef, designed a special ‘marinated lemon and honey chicken kebabs, homemade flatbreads, salad and mint yoghurt dressing’ recipe for the Cookathon, which more than 3,330 primary school students across Birmingham created at school during the session.

Health for Life, created and funded by Mondelēz International is delivered in schools by Services for Education and has been running in Birmingham for 12 years.

The initiative is designed to encourage healthy eating, physical activity and growing food, with pupils learning how to cook and grow their own fruit and vegetable which encourages them to lead a healthy lifestyle. To date, 175 primary schools across the city have been part of the programme which provides support and funds to introduce facilities and enhance the curriculum to embed healthier lifestyle activities.

Poppy’s delicious recipe isn’t just available to the budding young chefs. Families across Birmingham are also encouraged to get their own children cooking and can create Poppy’s special recipe from home by following the step-by-step video guide online.

This is the third time Health for Life has run the Cookathon across Birmingham, with chefs Marcus Bean and Glynn Purnell previously fronting the campaign.

Poppy O’Toole commented: “I’m really excited to have been involved with the Health for Life Cookathon this year! Getting children involved with and inspired by cooking and healthy eating early on is fantastic for building their life skills and a passion for cooking. Health for Life and the Cookathon inspire the next generation of amazing chefs to pursue careers in the industry – as well as encouraging a life-long interest in growing and cooking food.

“We have such an incredible food scene in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.”

Helen Lowe, headteacher at Penns Primary School, said: It’s been wonderful to see how engaged and enthusiastic our students were throughout the Cookathon, and to see them put all the skills they have learnt through the Health for Life programme into action. It is vitally important that children learn to cook and eat healthily from an early age, and Poppy truly helped inspire and teach pupils brand-new skills and habits that they will use every day.”

Helen Grundy, education advisor at Services for Education, added: “Health for Life creates such a positive difference to so many children and families across the city, and our Cookathon is a fantastic way for pupils to showcase everything they have learnt as part of the programme.

“We’re extremely grateful to Poppy for being the lead of this year’s Cookathon – not only is the recipe she has created very delicious, but she was absolutely brilliant with the students, and the children loved learning from her! Poppy has helped us accomplish a record-year for the Cookathon, with more than 3,330 pupils across Birmingham joining in for her cook-a-long on the same date, at the same time, which is incredible.”

For more information, and to watch and cook Poppy’s recipe from home, head to


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Notes to Editors

About Mondelēz International

Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) empowers people to snack right in over 150 countries around the world. With 2022 net revenues of approximately $31 billion, MDLZ is leading the future of snacking with iconic global and local brands such as Oreo, Ritz, LU, Clif Bar and Tate’s Bake Shop biscuits and baked snacks, as well as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate. Mondelēz International is a proud member of the Standard and Poor’s 500, Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Visit or follow the company on Twitter at The Cadbury Foundation was founded in 1935 in recognition of the company founders’ investment in the welfare of their employees and communities. Today, the Foundation’s ethos acknowledges this heritage, supporting community programmes and charity partners with a focus on wellbeing, skills and passions of its colleagues.

About Health for Life®

  • Health for Life is an evidence-based programme supporting children and adults in Birmingham to live healthier lifestyles by engaging people in growing food, physical activity, healthy eating and cookery.
  • Health for Life was introduced in 2011, funded by Mondelēz International with an investment of £4.8 million to date, and delivered in schools by Services For Education and in the community by The Conservation Volunteers.
  • The programme has now engaged 211 Birmingham schools comprising 167 primary, 26 nursery and 18 secondary schools benefitting 73,560 pupils. It has also reached more than 168,700 adults in the city including teachers, parents and community members.
  • Around 1,260 Mondelēz International employee volunteers have given practical support to programme schools and community spaces.
  • Health for Life has developed 18 community food growing spaces and continues to deliver Green Gym activities in five locations.
  • The programme has received national acclaim, receiving the Food and Drinks Federation Health and Wellbeing Award; Business in the Community’s ‘Big Tick’ and awards for both the Health for Life show garden and separate schools’ wheelbarrow displays at BBC Gardeners’ World.

About Poppy O’Toole

TV presenter, author, Michelin-trained chef, self-crowned Potato Queen and internet sensation Poppy Cooks has been working in professional kitchens for over a decade.

Poppy has gained widespread recognition on TikTok, where she rose to fame and now boasts over 4.4 million followers on the platform, and over 900k followers on Instagram.

Poppy is the author of two best-selling books and the co-host of BBC Threes ‘Young Master Chef’, which launched its second series in January, 2024.

About Services For Education:

An education and training charity based in Birmingham, Services For Education brings music and learning to life. It employs more than 200 staff delivering expert training and development to teaching and school support staff and music tuition to children, and. Part-funded by the Arts Council, England it also has its own fund-raising and subsidised commercial operations.

  • Services For Education’s School Support Service provides expert training and development to teaching and support staff in nearly 600 schools in the West Midlands and increasingly across England, to improve practice and ensure teachers are best equipped to respond to developments in curriculum and policy. As a leading provider of safeguarding education, Services For Education works with 400 schools delivering training in-person and on-line. It also delivers innovative programmes to support the physical and emotional health of children and young people through Health for Life® and other community-based activity.
  • Services For Education’s Music Service, one of the largest in the country, works with 93% of Birmingham schools and each year teaches music to nearly 32,000 children – as well as running 97 free ensembles. It provides 27,000 musical instruments free-of-charge so all children have access to playing and enjoying music together and its Youth Proms at Symphony Hall give 4,000 young musicians the opportunity to perform to an audience of more than 10,000. It also runs music schools, has a world music department, provides private music tuition to all ages as well as working with partners to deliver music and choral opportunities to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
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