100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Spicy Moroccan Chicken with Couscous and chickpeas. A really simple one this week where everything is cooked together, saves on washing up!

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These stunning pizzas weren't cooked in our normal Thursday Cooking session but with our Boy's Club. The one on the left even has a stuffed crust! They tasted as good as they look.

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we took a risk and cooked a vegetarian dish. Halloumi, Roast Vegetables, Tomatoes and Chickpeas and Couscous. We were all surprised that there wasn't too many complainants although that could have been because it was delicious!

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked a Spaghetti Bolognese. This was a firm favourite with the young people but everyone had their own opinion on how it should be had, what should be included and what needed to be left out.

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week as it's Easter we cooked a roast lamb dinner. With roast potatoes and gravy and all the trimmings this was a really special meal that brought the group together

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made the italian classic Lasagne. This was a real hit with people going back for seconds as well as scraping out the tin!

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Honey and Lemon Chicken with Hassleback potatoes. The young people were really impressed with the results of the potatoes, although the aubergine sauce didn't go down too well. We soldier on...

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Piri Piri Chicken with Wedges and Coleslaw. Everyone was really happy with how this turned out, especially as there was plenty of chicken to go about.

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Roast Chicken Pesto Pasta. The young people enjoy shredding up two roast chickens for the meal. One of our serial chicken shop frequenters even put off her visit in order to eat with us.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 5

27 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked the classic Chilli Con Carne. Whilst many people tried it there was a general consensus that there wasn't enough chilli! Some people had their first taste of avocado; there were mixed opinions. As ever we strive to bring new experiences to the young people, using food and other means.

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Being positioned around the corner from Essex Road’s busiest chicken shop presents a challenge to us here at Urban Hope.

Not only do we have our wastepaper bins overflowing with fried chicken boxes which housed the post school snack of ‘wings and chips’ but our computer keyboards and furniture is often covered in a film of grease from the multitasking hands of the children and young people who come along to the daily activities here at Urban Hope. These are obviously minor inconveniences and don’t match the concerns we have about young people’s diets which read like the menu of ‘Mississippi Fried Chicken’. Research tells us that the appeal of the 305 fast food outlets in Islington is the price, taste and convenience along with the social dynamic of sharing food with friends.

Whilst Islington council said in 2012 that they will look to “ban the setting up of new fast-food outlets within 200 metres of a primary or secondary school’, there are no similar plans related to youth projects. Here at Urban Hope we have a long tradition of teaching young people to cook nutritious and tasty meals within a tight budget. Some of them have gone on to find careers in the restaurant industry but most are now simply able to tell us about meals they have cooked at home for parents and siblings using skills learned at our cooking sessions. Not only do we cook together but there is an emphasis on sitting down and sharing meals together. It’s often in the context of a shared meal that we are able to provide emotional and other practical support to children and young people. We have found that with the support of local donors we are able to provide young people with meals that rival the appeal of fast food whilst providing a family mealtime feel.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 4

20 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

With the great success of the chicken curry a few weeks ago we branched out and cooked a Lamb Pilau. This again went down well with some enjoying the change from chicken. However, even when the young people know what we will be cooking they still visit the Chicken Shop (and have curry later). Our mission continues...

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 3

14 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked a North African Chicken Tagine with Couscous. It was another thumbs up, especially for the honeyed crispy skin and the smokey harissa sauce.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 2

30 January 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week a spicy Keralan Curry does battle with the Chicken Shop.

The curry went down very well, as it always does. It brought to the table some of those who don't normally eat with us, which was great. We even had a bowl of chopped chillies for those who want to increase the heat. A few brave people tried them raw; must remember to have yogurt on standby next time!

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 1

23 January 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week Braised Beef and Garlic Pie, with optional Haggis!

The haggis didn't down too well especially after seeing the ingredients, but the pie was a winner.

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