A taste of something special from Ryan

FORCE teamed up with a rising star of the culinary world to serve up cookery tips for cancer patients who have had chemotherapy.

Food writer and stylist Ryan Riley, who has featured on the BBC’s One Show and is lined up for a Saturday Kitchen appearance, held a class at Exeter Cookery School and received rave reviews from those who attended.

Claire Dundas said she learnt a huge amount.

“It’s just the best thing ever and I can’t thank FORCE enough and Ryan for setting this up because it’s a brilliant idea. It’s been so informative and Ryan was the kindest person, so patient. Hopefully they can do other days for other people to benefit like we have.”

Karen Walker added: “I thought it was fantastic. I’ve seen Ryan demonstrate and I thought he was inspirational so I was desperate to get on the course. I missed chemo today to get on it.”

Maximising food flavours

Ryan is the founder of Life Kitchen, a cookery initiative set up in memory of his mother to help people living with cancer and those caring for them.

He set it up as a charity to offer free cooking classes across the UK that focus on maximising flavour from food. It is aimed at helping people living with the disease to rediscover their appetites.

“Up to 80 per cent of people undergoing chemotherapy find that the treatment robs them of their ability to taste. This not only makes food unpalatable for them, it takes away one of the pleasures of life. That was my mum’s experience, and it’s why I’ve set out on this journey to help other people living with cancer,” he said.

Ryan was 18 when his mother, Krista, was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. He became her full-time carer while his father was at work and sisters were studying. The illness was devastating and treatment severely affected his mum’s love of food. She died aged just 47.

Life Kitchen has famous supporters like celebrity chefs Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. TV presenter Sue Perkins is patron of the project.

Infectious passion

Professor Barry Smith of the University of London, a world authority in taste and the senses, is working with Ryan on pioneering research for his classes so that people living with cancer can experience the comfort and delight of flavour again.

“We are developing new recipes based on this exciting, innovative research and want to take our recipes and techniques across Britain,” said Ryan, whose passion for his crusade is infectious.

On his Exeter visit he demonstrated methods that elevated simple ingredients like salmon, pineapple and cauliflower into dishes that were bursting with flavour.

“Different chemo creates different problems,” said Ryan. “I can’t solve all of that, but what I can do is keep people interested in food. There is no doubt, I think, doing that with a group especially can be mentally boosting. The great thing about it is that when people get involved, cancer becomes irrelevant for a while, it is immediately about food and people.”

FORCE Information Manager Annie Kerr, who coordinated the day said: “One of the things we find really difficult for patients is knowing what they can eat, what’s going to stimulate their appetite. We know that taste is lost a lot of the time with some of the cancer treatments so having people here to enjoy all the fabulous flavours has been incredible. It’s been amazing and thanks to Ryan and the Exeter School.”

 You can follow Ryan on Twitter  – @LifeKitchen or @RyanRileyy – or go to his website, www.lifekitchen.co.uk