Making sure kids can cook

16:00, Feb 26 2013

The Kids Can Cook initiative, started by Blenheim chef Chris Fortune, is going from strength to strength with a trip to visit 14 schools on the North Island planned for April.

Chris did an interactive cooking demonstration with the pupils at Linkwater School on Monday last week. Using ingredients form their vegetable garden he showed them how to cook some quick, easy, tasty and healthy crepes.

"It's really important to make the connection from the vegetable gardens they help grow to actually cooking the produce. I also talk about the food and where it comes from and what they find locally - it's a life skill and a resource for them," Chris says.

The Kids Can Cook mobile kitchen officially got off the ground at the end of September last year after a one-year trial period. Its first visit was to Canvastown School.

"I really love going to rural schools," Chris says.

"The kids are always so keen to give it a go and they often have great vegetable gardens too."


Havelock Mussel Festival sponsored the kitchen's Linkwater School visit, and will also sponsor a visit to Rai Valley Area School.

The school pupils will then help Chris and guest chef, Simon Holst, at the Regal Salmon-sponsored cooking tent at the festival at Havelock Domain on Saturday, March 16.

"This is the third year that we have run this programme and last year it was Havelock School and Canvastown who helped me with Master Chef winner Brett McGreggor," says Chris.

The mobile kitchen went to Christchurch last week where it was scheduled to cook for 2000 children.

Schools in Wellington and Auckland are next on the schedule. The kitchen will visit 14 schools in Auckland in April.

Chris will bring the kitchen back down south through Hawke's Bay, visiting several schools along the way.

A total of about 7700 children will experience the interactive cooking demonstrations over the next two months.

"My goal is to build another [mobile] kitchen and base it in the North Island to look after those schools.

"This will be the primary focus of the trust that is being put together to oversee the project.

"My main focus is enviro-schools as most have vegetable gardens but I will go to any schools," he says. "So far the response has been great and they have all be very keen to have the kitchen at their schools."

The Linkwater School pupils, split into two groups, spent most of the morning learning from Chris and having a good laugh at his kitchen antics.

Linkwater School principal Deb Leov says: "I think it's great having Chris here and working with the kids like this.

"He is really good with them and they are certainly learning from him."

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