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Teaching Kitchen

The Two Star Michelin Chef, Raymond Blanc opened our state-of-the-art teaching kitchen in 2013. The kitchen is used to teach children how to cook and prepare food. The unique element is that cookery is used to creatively deliver skills from the national curriculum. The children use induction hobs and ovens, which are specially adapted to ensure their safety. The kitchen benefits from infrared taps, enabling the children to wash their hands hygienically and, custom made, child height stainless steel work surfaces for easy access.

The kitchen is used regularly for a wide range of lessons incorporating the skills in all curricular subjects. As a result, children get the opportunity to use a wide range of cooking techniques and sample a large variety of dishes which, expand their palate and helps them to understand and apply the principles of a healthy and varied diet for life.

There has been so much activity in the kitchen this year…. A few of Chef’s highlights from the teaching kitchen so far this year….

Nursery classes have been preparing food to take on a journey! Bread rolls and fruit smoothies. It’s important to get them cooking as early as possible, simple knife cutting skills, kneading, mixing and other skills all help with their early motor skill development and provides sensory experiences.

Reception classes have been baking lots, using the kitchen to observe capacity and weight in a practical setting. In their Dinosaur topic they have been exploring fossils. We used food to create a layered rock strata, with the perished dinosaurs between layers which the children uncovered in their own archaeological dig – an edible introduction to palaeontology!

Year 1 classes had great fun carrying out science investigations with ice and changing states of matter. The children were due to start an experiment in the class, investigating which substance would cause ice to melt the quickest. To support their understanding, we did some practical demonstrations – lifting blocks of ice with just string, salt and building an ice sculpture by supercooling water (again using salt and ice to chill the mixture) pouring that water onto a block of ice at which point it instantly freezes and forms a ‘snowman’! We then all split into groups and made ice cream in a bag, this time using a salt and ice mixture in the outer bag to chill the sweetened, flavoured cream in the inner bag until it has frozen. These experiments informed some of their predictions the following week when trying to melt the ice quickly.

Year 2 classes were looking at the history of London including the Great Fire. They learnt why Pie’n’Mash became such a staple food for working Londoners and made their own versions, including Jellied Eels on the side! Recently they have been travelling the world looking at Nepal and the UK, the differences and similarities, including the cuisine of course. This is an opportunity to learn about new foods and try new flavours.

As part of their Stone Age topic, Year 3 classes were learning about the types of foods hunter-gatherers might have eaten and how they might have found and prepared the food. Without a recipe book to guide them, the children were sent out into the garden foraging whatever they thought would be edible. We talked about the impact of the seasons in determining what would have been available. Back in the kitchen, using only this produce we managed to create 3 different dishes – mixed greens omelette, beetroot and horseradish slaw and fruit salad. The children also learnt about how prehistoric hunters might have prepared their food for eating. The children helped to pluck pheasants and saw how stone tools might have been used to cut the flesh before cooking their own food on a hot rock!

Year 4 classes were learning about the Rainforest. Some of our kitchen sessions focused specifically on palm oil. In the class they learnt about the tragic amounts of deforestation that occur as a result of palm oil production. In the kitchen we looked at a large selection of products, some foods as well as other items, all of which contain some form of palm oil. This demonstrated to the children just how hard it is to get away from using palm oil. The children discussed how palm oil can be a positive crop if farmed sustainably as often happens in parts of West Africa. The children learnt that in West Africa, palm oil has been a staple for centuries.  The children had the opportunity to make a West African dish called ‘Palm Oil Chop’, which is a chicken stew with Okra and Palm Oil. A small group also had a go at making palm oil from scratch in the traditional way using palm nuts, hot water and their hands of course!

Year 5 classes used the teaching kitchen as their science lab! They have explored solids, liquids and gases as well as methods of separation using food – evaporation, filtration, chemical reaction, even magnetism! In a twist on the regular ‘mocktail’ they created a multi-layered rainbow drink, learning the concept of liquid density at the same time. As the children get to the upper end of the school, more emphasis is placed on independent cooking, reading and following instructions as well as accurate measurements and predictions.

Year 6 classes really enjoyed using the kitchen to support their studies on Ancient Egyptians. This culminated in the final weeks  when they took part in a ‘weighing of the heart’ ceremony in which the children were able to see the anatomy of an Ox heart close up before preparing Ox heart kebabs, pitta bread and salad. All went down a treat! The biology lessons continue this week when they will be beginning the process of mummifying fish! The kitchen also provides a great incentive to practice maths, a lot of the recipes given to the children are in need of conversion using different mathematical approaches to figure out the correct quantities. The reward is, of course, being able to then cook and eat once they have calculated!

Our Teaching Chef, Joe Grollman, consults with class teachers, researches all of the various the topics and then leads the sessions in the kitchen as well as the very popular afterschool clubs.

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