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Essential Cuisine

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Tie up home schooling with sensory food skills

26th February 2021

For many years, Essential Cuisine have supported schools up and down the country, by not just supplying time saving products, but by teaching pupils vital skills about nutrition and cooking.

From preparing meals safely, learning about health and nutrition, to exploring their taste buds and senses; as part of our associate partnership with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Chef Adopt a School’, our Senior Business Development Chef, Jonathan Harvey-Barnes, has worked with primary schools for over nine years. He has prepared a selection of great activities to engage your children during the last few weeks of home schooling, helping them learn about food in a fun and exciting way!

The five basic tastes:

The five basic tastes

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury (or umami, Japanese for ‘good flavour’) are the five basic senses of taste that your children will naturally learn as they develop the understanding of what foods they enjoy or dislike. With a sense evoking taste test filled with different ingredients like lemon, cheese, chocolate and salted pretzels, your children can explore new flavours whilst learning which taste buds tingle! To make it even more fun, why not try a blindfolded taste test challenge where your child has to guess the ingredient as well as which sense!

Safe food preparation:

Safe food preparation

It is thought that children often develop the skill of using a knife and fork together around 7 years of age*, but at what stage is it appropriate to introduce knives to prepare food? Jonathan Harvey-Barnes says “Whilst working with key stage one children during the 'Chefs Adopt A School' Initiative, we will often prepare a fruit or vegetable salad with soft foods like banana or cucumber using serrated plastic knives. Engaging the children at grass-roots level not only helps them improve and hone basic kitchen skills, it’s also vital in helping them understand food and its importance on their individual well-being.” Jonathan will often teach the children how to suitably hold a knife in the safest manner as well as how to hold the ingredient they are chopping to ensure all of their little fingers are of clear of any danger! A fun demonstration will be sure to keep your children engaged.

Teaching children to grow food:

Teaching children to grow food

As part of our partnership with 'Love British Food', Essential Cuisine are always encouraging the foodservice industry to use locally sourced, British produce where possible… but do children fully understand where their food comes from? Another exciting practical exercise to engage your children is growing your own herbs, fruits or vegetables! Throwback to “cress-head eggs”, recreate this familiar classic exercise or go one step further with a window box. Although this maybe a messy exercise with no instant result, this provides a great opportunity to teach your child about the importance of looking after something… watering their vegetables, making sure they are getting appropriate light, a long term project with many lessons! Best of all, when your ingredients have grown, you can revisit the safe food preparation lesson and incorporate their freshly grown produce into a dish.

The Essential Cuisine team prides itself in offering food education to fledgling and professional chefs of all ages. The company is a patron of the 'Chefs Adopt a School' charity, an organiser of the 'North West Young Chef of the Year' competition and a sponsor of the 'South West Young Chef of the Year' competition. Our chef team regularly give up their free time to mentor young chefs within the industry. Jonathan has also been a part of the 'Springboard Future Chef Learning Solution Scheme’ that works to mentor 14-16 year old children aiming for a career in hospitality.

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Useful resources: 

BBC Bitesize Science Video, Five Taste Senses

Make With Kate, Teach your child to use a knife safely in the kitchen


NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

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