Cooking HubNews

A summer of cooking

Although the disappointing weather this year will probably be a long lasting memory, we’ve had another great summer for all the right reasons – we’ve had lots of fun with our classes, met dozens of lovely new people, welcomed back many of our regular visitors and taught plenty of happy families to cook new and healthy recipes.

Thanks to the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF23) funding from the Department for Education, we were able to hold a total of 32 cookery workshops. Some were held at our Shaw House cookery school, where we tried to use our outdoor space as much as possible, and some were outreach sessions where we were able to take our classes to various groups out in the community. We worked with around 44 families and around 250 meals were prepared and enjoyed. Whilst we love teaching young people how to cook, we especially love working with family groups as we can see the benefit for the whole family. Parents can see their children learning new skills and trying new foods they might not normally eat, and parents also comment that they’ve learnt new skills in the sessions!

In addition to our public sessions with families, we also partnered with a number of organisations from the Bradford area who we work with regularly. We held six family sessions with Bradford Inclusive Disability Service (BIDS), and four sessions for students from High Park School. It was nice catching up with some of the students we haven’t seen in a while and their families, but also lovely to meet a new family who seemed to really enjoy the class. We held ten other sessions for young people from YMCA, HALE, Young Carers and Bradford Youth Service. It’s always a positive experience for us to be able to provide these activities in the school holidays.

Our recipe choices this summer feel like we’ve taken a culinary tour around the world. We’ve cooked various beef and vegetable stir fry dishes, Pad Thai noodles, sticky chicken, Teriyaki salmon, French crêpes and American-style pancakes with various toppings, fish and chips, tomato and basil soup, Mexican fajitas, salmon tacos (often a favourite, especially popular with people new to tasting salmon), vegetable frittata and sweet topping pizzas (probably one of our most popular sessions of the summer)!

One of the highlights for us and the families we’ve worked with this summer is the continuation of our voucher scheme in partnership with Bradford Markets. We’ve handed out almost £1,200 of vouchers for young people and their families to spend on any of the fresh food stalls in Bradford Oastler Market. This includes fruit and veg stalls, butchers, fishmongers, Exotic Foods stall and a deli stall. We’ve really enjoyed our market trips after classes, especially if people haven’t been before: there was lots of talk about what the families would spend the vouchers on and if they could purchase any different ingredients that would enhance the dishes that we had taught them. We’ve had some wonderful feedback about the shopping trips:

Thank you very much for the vouchers. We have been to the market and bought ingredients to make meals for next week. We have never been to that market before, we will be going again to try different fruit and veg that we have never used or even seen before.

Parent, September 2023

Not only are families enjoying spending the vouchers, and we’ve loved seeing the excitement of some of the young people when they’ve selected their own items, but we’ve also heard from stall holders that they’ve met new customers who otherwise might not have used the market. It definitely feels like the vouchers are a really positive addition to the sessions.

Some other comments from parents about the classes in general suggested that they liked the variety of recipes, how informative sessions were, how we included everyone, how children got involved and that everyone was encouraged to try new foods.

Bowls of cooking ingredients

As always, we need to say a very big thank you to our wonderful volunteers: Abi, who started coming to classes when she was younger and is now a great help with setting up and clearing away after classes; our newest volunteer this summer, Talha, who offered us his time after completing his exams and achieving fantastic results (very well done!); and Judith, who started volunteering with us earlier this year helping with some of our regular school groups, gave up some of her precious time during the holidays and who we look forward to joining us for more sessions as we go into the new school term.

We’re now busy planning for the new school year, our regular school groups, a new adult cooking course and looking ahead to the October and Christmas holidays (yes, we know it’s early, but it will be here before we know it!)

Our upcoming adult course and future holiday classes will be posted on our website and shared on our Facebook page once they are available to book. As always, please feel free to send us any feedback or pictures from classes or recipes you’ve made at home: we love to see what you’ve been up to.