School-Home Support helps families from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Children and parents face so many complicated problems at home that healthy eating isn’t at the forefront of their minds. However, there is lots of evidence to suggest that eating fresh, healthy meals can help children do better at school. Eating healthily can lead to better concentration and more energy to engage in learning. But healthy food is boring and expensive, right? This is a myth that Stuart, the Head Chef at Roast Restaurant, set out to challenge last November when hosting a visit from Cobourg Primary School.
Stuart started out by showing the group how to make a butternut squash risotto and then took the group on a tour of Borough Market, showing them how he incorporates seasonal ingredients into his cooking. They started out a little bit shy but as the day went on, the children and parents were asking more and more questions about cooking and their growing enthusiasm was clear. They crowded round the stalls, ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ and wanted to know the name of every single fish on offer – none had ever been to a market before, or met a chef!
Stuart did a fantastic job of explaining how you can use all the different ingredients, giving simple but tasty ideas for meals. Stuart taught the group how you can bring out the best flavours of each ingredients, such as blanching the leaves of brussel sprouts to retain their sweetness. The group visited various stalls and the faces of the children lit up as they took in all the different colours and smells. There were rows upon rows of different vegetables and some of the colours and varieties took the children by surprise:
“There are so many different types of tomatoes.”
“The purple carrots were amazing!”
The highlight was the chef’s favourite cheese shop which was filled to the brink with rows of delicious looking (and tasting) cheese wheels.
The whole group were inspired by the new flavours and tastes on offer. One child said:
“I ate pepper and my mouth was on fire!”
One Dad spoke about how he has only recently started cooking at home for his children, as they have only just come to live with them. He explained how he is paying much more attention to what they eat and wants to think about what he puts in their bodies. He was enthused by the visit to the market and keen to try out the ideas at home. When it came to visiting the cheese shop, it turned out he had never tried blue cheese before. He was visibly moved by the experience, saying ‘it’s amazing what you can do with food’.
The group learnt lots more about healthy eating and how it can be affordable to use fresh ingredients. They left with practical skills and knowledge about how to use various fruits, vegetables and fish.
Thank you to everyone at Roast Restaurant for hosting the children and families and making the day such a special and educational experience.