It was back to school this week for executive chef Ben Ternent and myself when we went to St Clare’s Primary School in Handsworth, treating 60 Year 5 students to the first of three food lessons.
The Adopt a School programme is a national charity, founded by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, where professional chefs and volunteers deliver cookery sessions in schools, reaching over 21,000 young children each year. The charity is striving to tackle health issues and ensure that future generations are more connected to the joys of food and have the skills and knowledge to cook themselves.
Ben gave a ‘taste and sensory lesson’ tasting food to make use of all five senses. We tried foods that were bitter, sweet, sour and salty and used flavoured jellies to encourage children to really evaluate their food. The chocolate looking jelly (that was actually made with camp coffee and was not a favourite with the children!) highlighted that the look of food can be deceiving and how you really need to use all of your senses.
Opus decided to adopt a local primary school because we think it is crucial for children to understand where food comes from, for them to taste fresh food and to have the chance to prepare meals for themselves. By helping these children develop an early relationship with food, it will increase the chances of them growing up eating healthily, caring about the source of their food and practicing food hygiene and table etiquette.
We were impressed with the awareness the children had about food; some were very keen to share their own experiences and chat about their favourite dishes.
Our second session will be in the New Year, where we will get the children making a heathy dish to take home. Chef Ben and I best get practising… 60 children in one morning was hard work, but so worthwhile to see such excitement and so many sour lemon faces!