After School Cook Up
Slow Food Waitakere and Terra Madre Chef work together to bring Taste Education to children in Ranui

On returning home from Terra Madre 2008, I was particularly motivated and inspired about food education and have since launched a cooking class for children with my local Slow Food Waitakere convivium. Based in Ranui, a ‘low decile’ area in West Auckland, the after-school classes are offered once a week for six to twelve year olds and are funded in part by our local council, making them accessible to all. We use fresh produce from the community garden where our convivium has a plot. While the classes are not designed around ‘sensorial education’, this is an integral part of the process: smelling fresh basil, hearing the sizzle of food as it hits the pan, feeling the texture of vegetables as they cut them or the slippery texture of soaked rice paper for Vietnamese rolls. The children are wonderful—very excited about food and learning, responsive and responsible. As New Zealand is home to diverse groups of immigrants, we also try to incorporate different food cultures as this is one powerful way to learn about each other. And along the same theme, we have just begun adult classes—taught by talented home cooks from various cultural backgrounds, who share their knowledge and stories of their culture and food traditions. 
As a private caterer, I find my work constantly presents opportunities to teach, whether it is sharing the source of the wonderful local figs, recipes, or talking about the simplicity of making bread. I recently finished a live-in cooking job with a group of people over 60, some of whom had never seen a potato growing and didn’t know where oysters came from. I watched as over the course of 10 days they ‘woke up’ to the natural world around them and relaxed.

Claire Inwood
Terra Madre cook delegate 2008