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Our Team
It's all in the mix

We’re a team of qualified food teachers, commercially experienced chefs, trained nutritionists and dedicated offce staff. What ties us all together is our passion for improving lives through cooking.


Jane Sixsmith, Director

Jane Sixsmith, Director, Focus on Food

Jane, an ex-Home Economics teacher, is passionate about helping people learn to cook through practical, hands-on teaching. She joined us to teach on our Food for Life Partnership Cooking Bus back in 1998 where she inspired many teachers and children before becoming Director of Focus on Food in 2011.

Best moment so far: Seeing our work with the Food for Life Partnership recognised in the government’s School Food Plan – it shows how groundbreaking it is.


Ruth, Managing Director

Ruth Robinson. Managing Director, The Dean Clough Foundation

Ruth heads up The Dean Clough Foundation, which manages Focus on Food, The Cooking School at Dean Clough, The Chefs’ School at the Viaduct café and various art galleries at Dean Clough. During her 11 years with the organisation she has led on some incredible projects and is dedicated to finding new ways to support communities that need us most.

Best moment so far: Bringing together our work with adults, children and communities in our new teaching kitchen that we’re planning at Dean Clough in Halifax.


Matthew Benson-Smith

Matthew Benson-Smith, Director, The Cooking School at Dean Clough

Matthew has 20 years’ experience as a chef in acclaimed and award-winning restaurants and hotels all over the world. His passion for cooking fresh, seasonal produce is only exceeded by his desire to share it with others through inspiring and training people of all ages, levels, backgrounds and abilities.

Best moment so far: Starting our apprenticeship programme to train the chefs of the future in Halifax and help young people get into employment and training.


Richard and Jane

Our Welsh team

Richard and Jane are qualified food teachers who work on our Health Challenge Wales Cooking Bus, training children, teachers and communities in key cooking skills. They can deliver sessions in English or Welsh.


Jemima, Sarah, Dorothy-Anne, Lois

Our Scottish team

Jemima and Sarah are qualified food teachers who work on our Healthier Scotland Cooking Bus, while Lois, a qualified nutritionist, supports schools and communities to continue cooking after our sessions. Dorothy-Anne advises schools on incorporating cooking into the curriculum.


Rachel and Sarah

Our English team

Rachel and Sarah teach and train a wide range of people in cooking skills all across England in a variety of community and educational settings.


Joanne, Carlie, Diane, Rachel, Harriet, Claire

Our office team

All our programmes and projects are all supported by our office-based team in Halifax: Joanne, Programmes Co-ordinator; Carlie, Administrator; Diane, Administrator; Harriet, Marketing & Communications Manager and Claire, Finance Manager.


Matthew, Peter and Paul

Our chefs

Peter, Paul, Dominic and Matthew are all experienced commercial chefs who train apprentices and chefs, teach cooking classes, visit schools to inspire and teach children, offer consultancy to support businesses and much more.