Who would have thought that you could teach Year 7 students how to cook in their science lab? No, we're not talking Heston style experimentation, just good, simple cookery, starting off with the building blocks of how to cook safely, efficiently, creatively and tastily.
I'm determined that all children should get the opportunity to explore and enjoy food, both in eating and cooking and the location it turns out, just doesn't matter!
Our journey at Q3 Academy Langley started in April of this year. Invited to teach the Year 7's cookery as part of their incredible enrichment programme on Wednesday afternoons. Food at Twelve was to join other remarkable providers teaching the likes of Mandarin through to The Rep and their theatre classes. I'm still in awe of this idea, what it brings to the students and delighted that we can be a small part of the children's school lives at the academy.
I invited Laura to work with me for these classes. Being a qualified teacher and passionate home cook Laura is the perfect match for our classes at school, her professional approach to our classes along with sense of humour and the ability to bring out the competitive side in any quiet student compliments our recipes and teaching style.
Our classes are informative, completely hands-on with the students cooking their recipes with our supervision and demonstrations, but they are also fun. I firmly believe that food should be enjoyed, from the creation of the dish to the enjoyment and satisfaction in the end product. Not to mention, if you've loved every moment of creating your beautifully prepared Pico de Gallo, but you don't like tomatoes, you're still going to give it a taste aren't you?! Such a wonderful sense of accomplishment for students who are not that keen (to say the least) on certain ingredients, trying their own cooking and enjoying their dishes, with a grin on their faces.
At Q3 Academy we teach two classes on a Wednesday with 16 students in each class. We have a 5 week rotation that sees us welcome every Year 7 student to our Food at Twelve cookery class, if you're still with me on this you'll have worked out that means we teach the same thing for 5 weeks. So when we started out teaching Thai Green Curry, we had ten lessons of this, totalling in 80 Curries, that's a lot of coconut milk and lemongrass!
Along with the Thai Green Curry, students learnt how to prepare and cook handmade Roti as well as how to cook fragrant rice.
And yes of course, students get to take home their cooking, we provide everyone with a takeaway container and paper bag!
Our second 5 week rotation has seen our cookery classes prepare the traditional Mexican dish, Huevos Rancheros, along with Pico de Gallo (fresh Salsa), with demonstrations of frying Tortilla and making Guacamole, delicious. That's around 160 eggs, 80 tins of tomatoes and over 180 onions!
Our last rotation of the Summer term sees us preparing to teach an all American dessert of Warm Berries and Dumplings, accompanied with Chantilly Cream where children will learn how to form quenelles for that perfect presentation(!) and our favourite instant fruit ice cream. Definitely a fun way to end the long academic year and enjoy a sweet treat.
Along with students cooking delicious recipes and enjoying their efforts, we ensure that all of our children's cookery classes include simple food safety and hygiene and the building blocks of being a good cook. With safe knife skills, time management of the recipes, cooking in a clean and neat fashion whilst also learning about seasoning and increasing flavour in their dishes, we always manage to fit a lot into our cookery classes!
Laura and I have loved being a part of Q3 this term, we have been welcomed so warmly by the whole school and it has been a pleasure to get to know their wonderful students.
If you're looking to set up a cookery club at your school or in your community or perhaps are thinking of extras for Duke of Edinburgh Award students or preparing students heading off to College and University, we'd be delighted to hear from you and how we could help. We bring all of our own equipment with us and welcome the challenge of any space!