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Food, Glorious Food!

It’s never too late or too early to acquire new skills in the kitchen and the phenomena of reality TV cooking shows has led to a rise in children stepping up to the kitchen bench. From toddlers to teens, children are developing a passion for cooking and food, preparing meals from natural ingredients and using recipes to create culinary masterpieces.

Boys often comment that they are inspired by celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Curtis Stone and over the last few years TV programs like MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution have contributed to a spike in our students’ interest in cooking and the benefits of making healthy eating choices.

The ATC Cooking Club has been running for seven years and is one of our most popular co-curricular clubs. With the use of a full commercial kitchen Year 4 boys get to use state of the art facilities for their hands-on weekly cooking activity. Led by a coordinator and a dedicated group of volunteer parents, students quickly develop kitchen skills, understand safety measures and gain confidence in their cooking ability. With a focus on ingredients and nutrition, boys come to understand the difference between fresh or processed foods and home-made or packaged snacks.

We know the many benefits of learning how to cook but we decided to ask the boys what they liked about being in Cooking Club:

…and some other benefits:

  • Maths skills: Doubling a recipe requires addition, or multiplication skills. Halving it requires division, and recipe fractions like ½ a cup and a ¼ teaspoon bring maths applications into the kitchen.
  • Comprehension: Reading and understanding step by step instructions and following procedures are all very important components to achieving a great finished product. Each week, step by step method is displayed on the interactive whiteboard and students are asked to read and follow the instructions.
  • Self-esteem: Cooking allows children to get instant feedback, which helps them learn and grow in self-knowledge and confidence. Learning a new skill, such as baking or cooking, is known to help children with healthy self-esteem development.
  • Life Skills: Cooking is a life skill. As children grow to adulthood, the job of feeding others becomes their responsibility. Learning to cook at a young age ensures that the transition to independent cooking is a natural progression in adulthood.
  • Strengthening family relationships and traditions: Preparing family favourite recipes together, is a great way to build strong relationships and pass on family traditions from generation to generation.
  • Being Creative: Children love helping decide what’s for dinner, what goes in the fruit salad, or just about any other part of the meal. Older children can express their creativity in recipe development and food presentation.
  • Safety: During food preparation, the children learn the importance of personal safety when dealing with utensils and appliances and hygiene standards when dealing with food.
  • Social skills – Working with other children will give them a sense of sharing and cooperation and an understanding of how to interact with others in groups. Team work is very important especially when it comes to cleaning up at the end!
  • And last but not least, Fun! Having fun in the kitchen builds happy memories, positive vibes and happy, healthy eaters.

One thing I always enjoy seeing is the look on the boys faces once their dish is complete. It is one of pride, wonder and amazement. The icing on the cake (excuse the pun) is for the boys to be able to take home their dish to share with their family. This gives them a real sense of accomplishment. Below you will see a link to the No-bake Cheesecake that we made this term. It is a great recipe to replicate at home with your son and you can try adding different flavours to it. It is so easy that even younger siblings can help particularly with the biscuit crushing!

Over the years I have learnt that parents have many reasons for wanting their sons to learn how to cook. Some want them to be able to cook a meal for the family, others want them to be more independent, (a great skill for the future), and some just want them to have fun with food.

Whatever the reason, it has been proven that boys benefit from being creative, participating in hands-on activities, spending time with friends and understanding nutrition. What I think is most important is that they enjoy being in the kitchen which is the hub of every family home!

Happy cooking.

Gillian Nel
Cooking Club Coordinator