TV chef Glynn Purnell swapped the small screen for the canteen when he opened a state of the art kitchen at a school which has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire.
Less than three years ago, Light Hall School in Shirley was reduced to a charred shell when a blaze ripped through the building and left damage totalling £1million.
But pupils were celebrating yesterday after they began learning in new classrooms for the first time.
The £5.7million facility also boasts a modern kitchen to feed the school’s 1,250 pupils every day.
Glynn, who owns Purnell’s restaurant in Cornwall Street and shot to fame on BBC’s Great British Menu, was the guest of honour as the wraps were taken off canteen.
He gave the gleaming new kitchen the seal of approval and even praised the home-cooked food.
“It’s better than a lot of restaurant kitchens and most importantly it’s got a great team working in it,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to the head cook and she tells me that they will be making everything on site so the pupils are going to get a really decent meal.
“Having a new canteen like this is going to give kids and incentive to stay and school and eat something which is a lot healthier than going down to their local chippy.”
Pupils were left heartbroken in February 2006 when they gathered to watch helplessly as coursework went up in flames as the school was engulfed by fire.
More than 40 firefighters battled to keep the blaze under control but could do nothing to save the building as its roof collapsed.
Headteacher Vic Scutt praised pupils for coping with disruption as their school was turned in to a building site and said the new block would inspire them to learn.
“In spite of everything that happened, we never stood still as a school and the pupils got their best GCSE results ever last year,” he said.
“Now we’ve got a top quality learning environment, we’re moving in to an exciting new era for the school.
“The pupils deserve it and it’s so exciting to see them so enthused by the whole thing.”