We started virtual cooking sessions on Zoom with Kenny, our chef tutor, on Friday afternoons earlier in lockdown. We started out with four students attending but now regularly host sessions with up to 12 students, where are least eight participate directly in cooking, with the remainder watching and following. Each student is assisted by a parent or carer.
The sessions are really popular and the feedback has been incredible. Parents and carers have asked us to continue sessions even after lockdown restrictions have ended. When they cook, students cook the family meal for that evening so there’s a huge sense of achievement and pride in their results.
We’ve noticed that students thrive cooking in their own homes, they’re relaxed and more confident in their familiar spaces. As they’ve become more comfortable with the virtual teaching environment they’re asking and answering lots of questions. Kenny has noticed how students are really engaging with the tasks at hand, ‘I can see they’ve been listening because I can see on screen their knife skills.’
Students are sent the recipes in advance to prepare shopping lists and then go out to shop for what they need, developing practical day-to-day life skills. Dishes have included family favourites like spaghetti Bolognese, shepherd’s pie, pizza and salad and chicken and leek pie.
Using video conferencing also helps students develop their digital skills as they navigate the process of how to receive and take part in Zoom calls. During such uncertain times, connecting with other people is incredibly important. Encouraging students to engage online with tutors and each other injects a level of happiness and purpose. Keeping a sense of routine has helped alleviate anxiety and clearly has a positive impact on mental health.
Kenny notices that before each session starts the waiting room on Zoom fills up early with everyone excited and keen to get started. He says, ‘The big smiles on students’ faces during the sessions, ah that says it all’.
‘Thank you for the excellent cookery session that took place on Friday 29th May. I would also like to compliment you on the delicious recipe for the chicken and leek pie. The sauce was absolutely yummy and my whole family thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Simone is loving the sessions and has a real sense of achievement when she completes them and sees how everyone enjoys what she has cooked. She looks forward to each lesson and it has now become a routine for her to cook the family meal on Fridays. Please keep up the good work as it is very much appreciated.’ - Julia, parent
‘I am having a good session at Zoom.’ - Ella, student
‘Alastair really enjoyed cooking with Kenny and the others today, thanks for all your help.’ - Diane, parent