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Cooking with kids, Australian style

Australia is having a world first with a programme for creating kitchens – with veggie gardens – for 191 primary schools with the goal of teaching kids how to cook. The adults are teachers (a few of whom are experts), but chefs are nowhere to be seen. The kids grow the food, choose the menu and serve the meals in imagined restaurants from ethnic cuisines or what inspires them.

Whilst on holiday in Australia last month, I visited the Stephanie Alexander Foundation to see a school kitchen in action. One of the most inspiring developments is that the teachers and kids are using food as a key source of inspiration throughout the curriculum. Need a history lesson? Then what about using a fruit, say an aubergine, or something like pasta and tracking down its story?

I have been helping Lucy Turner, my sister-in-law, create a pioneering kitchen design for Berrima school in NSW. She is applying for a grant to the foundation. We will keep you posted about how it goes. The foundation has received AU$ 12 million to partly fund the programme. Parents and school have to find 50% of the financing, so it becomes a real community effort. Mums and dads are called on to provide practical assistance. I will providing design services free for the first school. Johnny Grey Studios will be examining the difference between a home kitchen and one for kids in large groups. Stay tuned.


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