Cooking with Kids

Christopher Trotter writes: ‘I have been involved with my local secondary school here – Levenmouth Academy – for quite a few years now and it all started with a colleague who is a Rotarian. They organise a competition called “young chef”. The expression makes me cringe, but my colleague is persuasive and community-minded and I thought perhaps I can change the ethos from inside. I have judged the various competitions over the years and started to go into the school to help advise on cooking in season and using local ingredients, but every time the competition comes round, it is all about spices and stuff they see on telly, which I find frustrating.

‘The Rotary Club organises a dinner every year and the food is disappointing, so I suggested we did one in the school and I would cook with the kids. I had a group of about 15 fifteen-year-olds preparing, cooking and serving 70 meals, using local produce. I invited along the then general manager of the Old Course Hotel (upmarket place in St Andrews) to be the guest of honour and his speech of thanks at the end had me in tears.

‘As he spoke, you could sense the kids – many from deprived backgrounds (Levenmouth, Methil, Buckhaven) – rise in stature, and feel the pride of achievement perhaps for the first time, in front of an audience of 70 adults.

‘Simple food prepared together and shared.

‘Cooking is not regarded as being important in schools, it is time that it is and if we as a Guild want people to cook then we must do all we can to promote it.’