Mairi Lucas Masterchef teacher
I first started working in Merchiston in about 2001, teaching cookery to the younger boys as a fun activity in the Chalmers West kitchen (my then fiancé was a maths teacher in the school). I have continued to do this through the years, alongside getting married, having two sons and being a housemaster's wife.
For several years, our previous headmaster, Andrew Hunter, had had a vision to provide cooking classes for the students in their final year so that they would be prepared for life after Merchiston. Due to the extensive accommodation provided by the new Laidlaw building, some rooms became available in what used to be Rogerson East. This was the ideal opportunity to create a space for cooking.
In 2010, the Masterchef kitchen was built and I had the honour and pleasure of setting up the department. It is deliberately more like a kitchen in a home than a professional kitchen The cooking sessions are relaxed with the aim of letting each student experience for himself how enjoyable and sociable cooking can be. Each day, a group of boys will come and make their lunch in our lovely kitchen with views looking out to the Firth of Forth and then they will sit down and eat together in the relaxing and peaceful dining area. We make the typical family favourites - chicken fajitas, spaghetti bolognaise and chilli con carne and since 2010, we have made and eaten over 4,000 lunches in the department.
One of the most rewarding things about the role is seeing students relax and enjoy themselves as they cook - I personally believe that this experience is very likely to lead to a lifelong love of cooking.
Apart from cookery, I like to paint (portraiture and landscape), I enjoy family life, church, house-swapping, and I love living in the beautiful and historic village of Colinton.
One of the things I like about my job is the banter of the boys. There are always a few comedians in each year group and they often do things which make you chuckle. I have a knife cupboard in the department with magnetic strips for holding the knives and the boys are very good at putting the knives neatly on the magnetic strips. On one occasion, though, I went through to the dining room to do something whilst the boys were finishing clearing up in the kitchen. They came through after finishing up and said good bye. I returned to the kitchen and as usual went to lock the knife cupboard only to find not only the full set of knives but also a box grater, a large metal mixing bowl and all manner of metal kitchen utensils stuck on the magnetic strips!