Cooking up a storm with Central Street Cookery School

6 September 2017

Central Street Cookery School comes to life on a Wednesday evening when the ‘Family Cook & Eat’ workshop takes over the kitchen. It’s a fun session where families work together to make affordable meals made from food that would otherwise have gone to waste, delivered to them by FareShare London.

 Professional chef Sofia Craxton teaches a menu based on the fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy produce that arrive in the weekly FareShare delivery. One week it might be roast pork with pear puree, another spicy spinach curry. Parents, carers and children from 4 to 14  come together to chop, stir and learn about cooking healthily. Once the meals are dished up, everyone sits down to tuck in together.

Families cooking together including three girls, one boy and a mum.

Bringing people together

The cooking sessions provide more than a meal; they’re instrumental in bringing both families and the local community closer together. Sofia says:  Cookery School Manager Sofia Larrinua-Craxton explains “because of FareShare, we can now open up the workshops at a low cost to low-income families. Through cooking and sharing food together, we see parents and children interacting better with each other, as well as with other families. The social interaction is important for the community as a whole. At first people were a little timid but now the kids rush over to their newly made friends when they arrive.”

The School also offers classes to older adults in transition, perhaps unemployed or recently widowed, many of who live alone. Sofia explains “it makes people get out the house. Food brings them here and then they find there’s a real social aspect to it. It can make a difference, especially to people who are recently bereaved. After a few hours cooking, people begin to chat and you see them relax. Cooking can be a catalyst.”

A dad and his son and daughter grate carrots together to make coleslaw.

Improving health locally

The School uses healthy and affordable ingredients so that families can replicate recipes at home. Sofia explains “While we try not to preach to our families, we do use simple fresh ingredients to emphasise that you can make anything with veg and stock cupboard basics. The kids were not so interested in vegetables at first, but the more we cook with them, the more they like them. We made honey roast carrots recently, which everyone loved. And the fact that this is all with food saved from waste is amazing.”