Can your child cook? When Sophie Fox’s daughter was nine, she made her mum a three-course meal for Mother’s Day.
Not only did Sophie bring her own kids up to know how to fend for themselves, she’s now, along with sister Henny (a qualified nutritionist and kids food author), running cookery classes for other people’s children too. ‘We can underestimate kids,’ Sophie says, ‘cooking doesn’t have to be hard’. Sophie, a primary school teacher, finds it frustrating that teaching cookery isn’t part of the normal school day, and the rise in childhood obesity terrifying. ‘When I became a mother I felt the bottom line was to make sure my kids were fed properly, to give them the skills to cook healthily, and not fall into the trap of fast food and obesity.’
‘The Good Cook School works with kids from 18 months upwards,’ Sophie told me. They run half-term workshops; Cooking Tots groups, where mums and toddlers make lunch together; a Cookery Club where a mixed age group with a family atmosphere learn cooking skills; and an after school club at Backwell Secondary School which has had ‘a good take-up, lots of returners, and more boys than girls.’ They also run classes for young adults with special needs at a unit in Weston-Super-Mare. ‘We cover the nutrition side in an informal way,’ Sophie said, ‘talking about it as we go, and all the food used is healthy. We use meat, but sparingly, and always suggest a veggie alternative.’ Only one of six sessions covers a sweet dish. They follow School Nutrition Guidelines, and, as a Healthy School Co-ordinator at the school she works at, Sophie’s well aware of the balance needed. ‘We work mainly in North Somerset, where we attended a Food Hygiene Course and were encouraged and supported, as well as now being registered with, the Environmental Health department.’
Sophie and Henny reckon that cooking should be fun, too. ‘We organise parties where the cooking is the entertainment – kids choose what they want to make, we bring the ingredients and help them cook their own party food, like pizzas, sausage rolls or fruit cake, and we hide the healthy aspect inside!’
Good Cook School: thegoodcookschool.co.uk
Henny’s (Henrietta Fordham) books: Healthy Food for Young Children, £12.99, Healthy Food for Babies and Toddlers, £9.99, both with wipe clean covers, publisher Usborne.
Half day workshops £15.
Cooking Tots, Southville Methodist Church, Bristol, £4.50 per session, Cookery Club at Long Ashton Village Hall – six-week term of 90-minute sessions, £10 per session including ingredients & food cooked is taken home.
Parties £15 per head, minimum 10 kids.
Caroline Yates, a cordon bleu trained chef and author, runs Confident Cooking from a manor house five miles from Devizes. For kids she offers an intense one-to-one half day, or two-hour sessions for four over 8s at a time. And for her the focus is absolutely on working with children who really want to learn, and on food that will be useful to the family – practical meals the kids can repeat themselves, rather than cakes or biscuits. Before the session Caroline asks them to decide what they want to do, for example learn to cook fish or how to make pastry. She asks them to shop for the ingredients themselves (with parental support if needed) and offers guidance on issues such as cost, quality of produce, and understanding food labelling, “I advise them on what to look out for.” Caroline told me, “For instance if they were cooking Cottage Pie I’d talk about going to a butchers and asking about different cuts of meat and how quality can vary with price. I want to enthuse the next generation.”
One-to-one half day sessions £60, Groups of four £30 each or £25 each if they bring a friend.
01380 812846 confidentcooking.com
• St Werburghs City Farm Cafe, Bristol - 12-week Kids Cookery Course for 6-11 year olds. Farm staff help out: horticultural trainer does a class on growing veg; livestock manager does one on farming practices.
0117 942 8241 email: email@example.com
• The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath, owned and run by French chef and baker, Richard Bertinet. Half-day classes for over 6s, Cooking with the Kids for over 5s (proper food but with Mum or Dad on hand for tricky bits), Mummy & Me for the little ones. Also 2-day survival cooking courses for over 16s about to leave home.
01225 445531 www.thebertinetkitchen.com
• Bordeaux Quay’s Children’s Cookery School - starter workshops, parent/child workshops, 6 week foundation courses, and, for the young Jamie or Delia in your life, the Young Chefs course for 13-16 year olds; visits to restaurants & suppliers, menu research; preparation of a three course meal for a panel of judges (10 3-hr sessions, £285).
Contact Claire or Maxine 0117 904 6679, www.bordeaux-quay.co.uk
• The Academy of Culinary Arts’ charity project - “Chefs Adopt a School”. Top chefs volunteer in schools teaching food facts, healthy eating, and fun with food. Also dedicated Regional Chefs run sessions in schools, this year already the SW Chef has worked with 2,500 kids.
Schools interested in taking part should contact SW Chef: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Cheltenham-based Sticky Mitts offer an at-home cookery course including recipes, apron, utensils, shopping lists & a password to the Sticky Kidz website with more recipes, games & info from ‘V-Rob’ the virtual chef (possibly based on Sticky Mitts’ Head Chef Rob Rees MBE, aka ‘The Cotswold Chef’).
• Finally, Netmums have just published their first book: Feeding Kids – how to produce tasty, nutritious food that doesn’t take hours. Co-written by a nutrition expert with tips and hints on feeding your kids.
Written by Beccy Golding
First published issue 50 (Autumn 2007)
Disclaimer – details correct at time of going to press, but may now have changed. Please make your own checks.
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