As you might have gathered, Sophie and I are passionate about providing fresh, balanced meals, made from scratch, for our family to eat. Obesity is a very real 21st century problem, which we hope we can help our children to avoid by teaching them the importance of eating a balanced diet, and how to create these meals themselves.
So when BRITA contacted us to offer a cooking class for our daughter, L, during half term we wanted to find out more.
The Kids’ Cookery School was set up when cooking fell off the school curriculum, 14 years ago, as children were left without vital food knowledge, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fiona Hamilton-Fairley set the charity up to educate children on the importance of eating healthily and how to actually create meals from scratch themselves.
Since 2000 The Kids’ Cookery School has educated 45,000 children, and the Acton-based charity has recently received a £10,000 donation from BRITA which will provide a year’s worth of ingredients to teach disadvantaged kids how to cook. BRITA also paid for L to go along and try out a cookery class, and then come back and share it with everyone on our blog.
(Please excuse the state of L – it was the school holidays so there had been much playing around with hairstyles and tattoos on the face!)
What L made at Kids’ Cookery School
- Cheese & tomato bagels
- Tomatoes stuffed with lamb, coucous & vegetables
- Fruit tart
Having sampled the food that L cooked, from scratch, with very little help, I can say that I was most impressed. Whilst L cooks at home with me, this is the first time she’s made such adventurous food on her own, and in a strange kitchen with strangers nonetheless!
So what did L make of the day? I’ll let her tell you herself:
Discussion with Fiona Hamilton-Fairley (CEO – Founder)
Whilst at The Kids’ Cookery School I got the chance to chat to Fiona, the CEO and founder of the charity, who is also passionate about this hole in our children’s educations.
How does Kids’ Cookery School work?
KCS used to provide frequent cookery class sessions, for example after school, but we have had to stop that as it is too complex to organised. So now we offer an on-demand activity (except during the school holidays) for bigger groups, fairs, children with special needs, which we can cater for by going round with our van. Now it is more about going where the need is rather than asking people to move to participate. In fact our van and our team were recently at a food fair in Manchester for 3 days, teaching 250 children.
What do you think needs to be done with regards to children and their cooking education?
Our focus here at The Kids’ Cookery School is on re-instating cookery classes in schools, and to cater for this with more vans. Sadly a lot of children have no idea of the absolute basics of cooking or food in general. This issue should be tackled at its root, with children learning different ways of living their lives, feeding and eating properly, with decent knowledge and the basic skills.
What are the obstacles?
Unfortunately the short term view is cheaper than the long term view, i.e. it is cheaper to eat junk food and fast food now than to learn the necessary skills of how to prepare things yourself from scratch.
Also schools don’t really want to change unless it’s forced on them from above, and it would need heavy investment for equipment (around £100k per school), training staff, finding space in the curriculum, etc.
It seems to be a cultural issue these days; that food is not important, it’s just fuel for the body, and whatever works in the short run is fine.
What are the possible solutions?
We need to show children how important a good diet is for their health, their energy levels, as well as their physical and mental capacities.
It’s time to show children that cooking is fun, it can help with maths, finances, sharing, exchanging, discovering things (fruit, veg, meat, other cultures, etc.). By putting children in cooking situations it helps make it real to them which can then help bring about changes at home and to change the mindset.
Charities, like ours, with the help of corporations as sponsors, can make and are ready for this necessary change.
There really is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to cooking – going back to the basics is easier and better anyway.
The Kids’ Cook Book from the Kids’ Cookery School
(Tried and tested by kids for kids), £4.99
The Kids’ Cookery School have put together a great little book to help children (and adults) with the basics of cooking, here is some more on the book:
- A unique concept that even a novice can use
- Icons are fun, inspiring and educational
- The book reflects today’s lifestyles and the multicultural world we live in
- Preparing and cooking meals from fresh ingredients makes for a healthier, more balanced diet
- Icons can help families to enjoy cooking and eating together and to save money on the weekly shopping bill
- The clear, vibrant illustrations are simple and easy to understand, reading skills are not essential
- Very visual guide for basic recipes from different origins
- Instructions are so simple to follow
- Clever signs to indicate dangerous equipment
Our personal feedback
I found the KCS team to be passionate, enthusiastic and well organised. The lesson was highly interactive with a lot of questions for the children, offering a group and individual approach. There was a good focus on hygiene, safety and why cooking is important. The end result was a balanced but exciting and fun meal.
If you want to help The Kids’ Cookery School with a donation or to book cookery classes, please click here to visit their site: Kids’ Cookery School
Disclosure: BRITA gifted L this cookery class in exchange for this honest review. All words and opinions (other than the interview with the CEO of The Kids’ Cookery School) are our own.