A new scheme where Bristol schoolchildren are being taught to cook by professional chefs has been launched across the city to encourage young people to eat more healthily.
Teaching a City to Cook started this month (February) alongside a competition to find the city’s Young Cook of the Year.
Currently Bristol has the highest level of tooth decay (at nearly 30%) in the South West and higher than average levels of childhood obesity with nearly a third of children aged 10 to 11 years old carrying excess weight (PHE 2018 figures).
Both conditions are associated with a poor diet and can lead to long term health problems later in life, but are entirely preventable.
The programme has been developed by Bristol City Council with the help of local professional chefs including Barny Haughton from Knowle’s Square Food Foundation, Adrian Kirikmaa from St Monica’s Trust and Josh Eggleton from Pony and Trap. The aim is to help children to prepare healthy meals using fresh, seasonal food.
Adrian said: ‘I’m really proud to be a part of this exceptional project, food brings so many different positives to our lives, whether it be eating, well-being or a career in hospitality.
“Myself, Josh and Barny have talked about this for some time now and it’s fantastic to actually start going into schools and inspiring young people with seasonal, nutritious food. We are also launching The School of Food and hope to encourage as many young people as possible into a vibrant and exciting career.”
Barny said “We are also in the process of linking up with a number of local-to-The Park and South Bristol schools. The Teaching A City to Cook mission and especially the Young Cooks Award are obvious and brilliant partner projects for us at Square Food.”
He said Square Food would also be launching its own ten week cookery and food knowledge programme in the autumn for 16 to 25 year-olds entitled “How to Chop an Onion”
“As with The School of Food, it is partly about getting young people into food jobs (but not necessarily kitchens) but is aimed at young people who would not be able to manage an apprenticeship.”
Teaching a City to Cook links to Sugar Smart Bristol, a programme which has been running in the city for the past year to educate local people about the dangers of sugary food in partnership with the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
Cross cultural elements of the Teaching a City to Cook programme were created in partnership with the 91 Ways local initiative.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We want to make sure all our children have the best start in life. A healthy diet is a key part of helping to improve both our physical health and mental wellbeing. It can also be a major factor in health inequalities which are present around the city.
“Understanding how we can use seasonal raw ingredients to create a healthy meal will demonstrate that healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank.
“By bringing on board professional chefs from around the city I hope that we will be able to inspire a new generation of cooks who are able to make affordable and nutritious meals and fuel their own ambitions.”
A new digital support toolkit is available for teachers and community groups with recipes and videos from BBC’s Good Food website.
The programme will lead up to the Young Cook Awards later in the year which will provide an opportunity for children in years 6, 7 and 8 to put into practice the new skills that they’ve learnt in a competition.
Young adults between the ages 15 and 17 years will have an opportunity to apply their cooking skills for the Young Apprentice Award. Winners from both of these competitions will be announced during Food Connections week from June 11-17.
Find out more about the programme and download lesson plans from the Live Well website: