The Kids' Cookery School (KCS) was founded in 1995 in my own kitchen where I initially taught only a handful of young children. In 1998, when the number of students I taught had reached 300 I opened KCS HQ in Acton and decided to turn KCS into a registered charity. Since opening, KCS has taught over 40,000 children and students from the age of 3 years upwards. Many of the children we teach come from socially deprived backgrounds, from poverty and disadvantaged families and we teach a very high percentage of children with a range of special needs.
Recently we put together a selection of recipes for children to cook with their parents during half-term, which was for the DVD release of Cloudy with a Chance Meatballs 2. The Sony Pictures Animation film uses 'foodimals' (animals named after food) to entertain children and is a great conversation-starter for getting kids to be creative with their food.
In my work with young children I'm often asked what you can do to keep kids interested and make cooking fun for them, the good news is it is possible! Therefore I thought it would only be right to share some tips with parents on how to get your kids into cooking and enjoying good fresh delicious food .
- Explore where it might have grown and from what country it has come from.
Children are more likely to eat a dish or meal if they have had a hand in it, so let them help out in the kitchen even if it is only doing something small and not dangerous. Allow them to explore the ingredients and learn from them.
- Try not to always make the same thing and try and keep away from the very sweet things. Savoury dishes are just as much fun to prepare and make as sweet biscuits, cakes and desserts, and of course much healthier to eat.
In October 2009 KCS launched a new innovative project, 'KCS on wheels' were the staff and kitchen comes to your community. Our goal is for our KCS chefs to use their experience and expertise to benefit more and more children by bringing our unique cookery workshops to the students, making our services more accessible. With KCS on Wheels, a KCS chef can arrive at almost any setting with everything needed to deliver a practical cookery lesson: from ingredients and aprons right down to the ovens and hobs and even the kitchen sink. Since it began, this project has made a lasting impact on thousands of children and family life, strengthening communities with the skills and knowledge to live happier , healthier lives by making better choices about what they eat and drink.
The range of projects vary from after school clubs to special needs tailor-made cookery sessions, special needs adult cookery classes as well as training sessions whereby we teach childcare providers how to cook quick and healthy meals from scratch for children. KCS now delivers numerous different projects on and off site, participating in a number of events to promote the importance of healthy eating to children and their families.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is out on Blu-ray & DVD on 17th February from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.