Once upon a time I was a young boy (yes I was one once, and a Villa Cub) and went to school. In fact, I want to school in Handsworth, in Birmingham, (yes of the riots before you shout it) to a boys school which has since been closed due to reasons why schools are closed down.
In all honesty after I joined secondary school I didn’t do any formal education in cookery, baking, or any other food related subject. Instead I was subjected to so called DIY subjects such as woodwork, metal work and lots of sport. Great for some boys but not the best if it doesn’t interest you.
Now I would have loved a professional chef teaching me how to cook though my Mum is very good and taught me well, this would have been my bread and butter so to speak, and shows how schools have changed over the years.
It’s because of this that Opus at Cornwall Street has adopted a local Handsworth primary school to educate youngsters on food preparation, hygiene and nutrition as well as teach them the basic skills needed for the kitchen.
Opus has so far been to the school twice to give lessons, with plans to give more lessons in the future.
They took the kitchen into the classroom last month (MARCH) after it was revealed 60% of pupils don’t know how to make a salad.
Research carried out last year by Future Foundation, a global consumer trends and insight firm, found 60% of children aged between 7 and 14-years-old didn’t know how to prepare a salad, with over a third admitting they had never chopped a vegetable.
In a bid to tackle this issue, award-winning restaurant Opus at Cornwal Street is leading the way, and has ‘adopted’ St Clare’s Primary School in Handsworth – the only restaurant to do so in Birmingham as part of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Adopt a School’ charity programme.
The initiative aims to tackle health issues and educate youngsters on food preparation, by sending hospitality professionals into schools to teach pupils about nutrition, hygiene, and healthy eating, as well as teaching them basic kitchen skills.
Opus visited the school for the second time on Wednesday 23rd March with its executive chef, Ben Ternent, and sustainability champion, Sarah Hepburn. The duo delighted 60 Year 5 students with a lesson on how to chop, cut and slice different fruits and vegetables to make healthy, nutritious and tasty salads.
Sarah said: “We wanted to adopt a local primary school because we think it’s crucial for children to develop an early relationship with food, understanding where it comes from, what fresh food tastes like and how to prepare meals for themselves. Cooking involves a lot of science, maths and creativity, so we think it’s important to get cooking back onto the primary school curriculum. We know that these lessons will increase the chances of pupils growing up healthily, caring about the source of their food, practicing food hygiene and table etiquette as well as being able to cook delicious meals for their family and themselves.
“When Ben and I visited St Clare’s Primary School, we were so impressed with the excitement and enthusiasm the pupils had. Although 60 children in one morning may seem daunting, seeing them so eager in their chef hats was incredibly fulfilling, as well as teaching them basic kitchen skills which a lot of them admitted they had never done before.”
Sophie Killian, Year 5 class teacher at St Clare’s Primary School, said: “It’s been fantastic to have Opus in our classroom teaching these skills – the pupils have really enjoyed having them here and it’s great for them to try new things. They’ve learnt some vital chopping techniques and actually allowing the kids to wear the chef hats and aprons and act like proper chefs has been a lot of fun.”
Pupil Simran Sheemar, aged 9, said: “Although I sometimes cook at home, I don’t do it a lot. Chef Ben has taught me how to cut and chop and I can’t wait to go home and make this for my parents.”
Opus Restaurant will teach a total of three lessons to St Clare’s Primary School throughout 2016, and pupils will also be visiting Opus’ kitchen.
For more information on the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Adopt a School’ charity programme, visit:
For more information on Opus Restaurants, visit:
Now you know.
Thanks for reading,