City 'cook off' encourages healthy, resourceful eating habits in children
Vegetables from school gardens around the city made it to the plate at an inter-schools "cook-off" competition in Christchurch this week.
Four Canterbury schools went head-to-head at the first Root to Tip competition at Casebrook Intermediate School on Tuesday, with two young chefs from Diamond Harbour School taking the winning title.
The Garden to Table and Christchurch City Council initiative aimed to encourage year 7 and 8 pupils to get excited about healthy, fresh food, most of which was grown in their own school gardens, and to use them from "root to tip", encouraging resourcefulness.
Pairs of pupils from Casebrook Intermediate, Halswell School, North Loburn School and Diamond Harbour School put their best two-course vegetarian meals to the test, with the aim of using all of each vegetable, reducing the amount of food waste.
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Diamond Harbour pupils Otis Swallow, 11, and Noah Cobby, 11, won the competition, judged by local chefs including Bearlion Foods co-owner Alesha Bilbrough-Collins, Gatherings Restaurant and Living Winebar owner Alex Davies and renowned Kiwi chef Jonny Schwass.
"We're very happy, surprised," Cobby said.
The year 7 pupils' winning main, a pumpkin pizza dish, utilised the full pumpkin all the way down to the seeds, which became a sprinkle topping for the pizza, and basil leaves grown by his mother.
"I like to cook when I'm bored," Cobby said.
"It's good to eat something you've made."
As the original chef was off sick, Casebrook School pupil Olivia Ineson, 11, stepped in to cook, having only found out on Friday.
"I just had to practice, practice all weekend," she said.
She said she had always liked cooking and trying new things in the kitchen.
"Mum and Nana are a big inspiration. I watch Nan cook, she's amazing."
National food education programme Garden to Table founder Catherine Bell said the initiative may not completely reduce child obesity in New Zealand, but it was one way to address the widespread issue.
"People have forgotten where food comes from, they think it's from a supermarket and people have forgotten how to cook and what good food is," she said.
"This is an important part of a children's whole education.
"It's knowledge which. . . is very powerful."
She hoped the Root to Tip competition could be rolled out nationwide.