Young chefs cook up a storm

Brendan Rees

Young chefs at North Melbourne Primary School are back in the kitchen using delicious and healthy ingredients – and they couldn’t be more excited.

After two years of stop-start lockdowns which forced lessons to go digital, students are enjoying some hands-on cooking since returning to classes this year.

In their latest project in March, a group of 22 Grade Four students learnt how to make zucchini bread complete with a cream cheese icing.

All ingredients were hand-picked from the school’s herb and vegetable garden, with the school’s kitchen specialist Kristen Re helping to take the students through each step of the recipe.

Ms Re said the students worked as a team and shared various roles whether it be beating eggs or grating a carrot while learning how to read a recipe and use measuring cups.

“What I love most about teaching primary school children to cook is the ability to introduce new foods that support students developing taste buds for healthy food choices,” she said.

“Cooking encourages development of lifelong skills such as teamwork, flexibility, thinking on your feet and problem solving.”

“Mathematics, literacy, and science is also embedded in lessons through creative activities that support not only students' educational development but also their social and emotional wellbeing.”

A big step for the Grade Four students is learning how to use a knife safely under the strict supervision of staff – which Ms Re said “they are doing really well”.

“They’ve all been so excited because they knew it was coming this year, and they get a certificate to show their knife licence.”

Despite the merits of technology when classes went virtual during lockdowns, Ms Re said face-to-face classes “provide a creative way for students to express themselves and work collaboratively with their classmates.”

“They want to be here; they want to show what they’re learning,” she said.

Student Andrew said he “loved whisking the eggs and grating the zucchini” while Hazel said the zucchini bread was “delicious” and “never knew I could use a paper bag as a piping bag.”

Another student Hannah said, “I really enjoyed cooking the bread, the icing was yummy, and I really enjoyed working with my teammates.”

Meanwhile, the school is producing some of its biggest zucchinis yet with one measuring 60 cm.

“I would say this was the longest of three we have harvested so far, but we still have more growing, so who knows,” Ms Re said.

The school is a part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, a school-based program offering children the opportunity to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, nutritious, seasonal, and delicious food.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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