The Worshipful Company of Cooks’ first female Master interviewed live on the BBC

On Remembrance Saturday, for the first time in living memory, the Worshipful Company of Cooks entered a float in the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The weather on the day was kind to the participants who were led by the Master, Second Master and Renter Warden, and included representatives from FutureChef, Lakefield, House of St Barnabas, Westminster Kingsway College and Treloars; and our two presentees at Christ’s Hospital School – all organisations and charities that the Company supports.

The several million people watching the parade on television cannot have failed to notice the Cooks: naturally, to make sure we were easily identified, everyone was other in a gown or wearing a white Chef’s jacket and tall hat. Past Master Mark Grove presented the new Lord Mayor with a basket of sausages (a Cook and Butler tradition for a number of years) and, as part of the BBC commentary, Greville Bibby, the Clerk of the Grocers’ Company was heard to say “The Cooks may be the smallest livery Company but they’re certainly packing a punch today”. At the end of the morning’s parade instead of the traditional sandwiches, the Cooks’ marchers all enjoyed a fantastic BBQ lunch from the back of the float – and we could see the envious glances from those nearby as the aroma of chicken and steak wafted around the floats and lorries – but they should have expected nothing less!

Following the approach from the BBC for interesting stories for the day’s live broadcast, Virginia Bond, the Second Master, was interviewed by the BBC’s Molly King as we moved up Princes Street and in front of the Mansion House. Virginia (wearing her new Tudor bonnet) was able to explain how she came to be part of the Company (a 3rd generation patrimony member), that she was about to become the first female Master since the Company was formed in the fifteenth century, and finally why the Cooks are the only Livery company with two masters (when the Bread street and the Eastcheap Cooks merged they couldn’t decide who should be Master – so they created a Second.) All great publicity for the Livery movement.

And so, only a few days later on Thursday 18th , Virginia was installed as Master at a Court Meeting and then, in front of representatives of our Associated Companies grouping (Mercers, Broderers, Masons and Innholders) was crowned and made her pledge ‘to serve the Company faithfully for the ensuing year’.

Peter Wilkinson, Clerk

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