Do you have an aspirant young Jamie Oliver on your hands? Check out Cookery School At Little Portland Street’s free courses for teenagers.

Have you ever found yourself lamenting the demise of home economics in schools? Perhaps you worry that your teenager, soon to head off into the world, might be doing so without the necessary culinary skills to feed themselves healthily. Or, on the flipside, you may have a teenager who longs to don their chef’s whites and get busy – and inventive – behind the stove, and is just itching for lessons to sharpen their skills.

Cookery School at Little Portland Street has the answer in the form of an ‘oven-ready’ programme of twenty free online and interactive classes for teenagers who wish to learn to cook (as a side note, may this be remembered as the first time in a long time that the term ‘oven-ready’ didn’t make us grimace). The idea to launch a National Cooking Programme is one that the school has been working on throughout the pandemic and even before it, as an attempt to redress the absence of cookery lessons as standard in schools and the potential detrimental impact as a consequence on the future health and wellbeing of young people. This scheme aims to offer them ‘the opportunity to learn to cook and acquire an important life skill that has, through successive governments, been denied to them.’

The one-hour interactive classes, which will be live streamed on Instagram and Facebook, kick off on 16 June at 5.30pm, and every ensuing Wednesday at the same time for the next twenty weeks. They promise to provide a place in which teenagers can learn in a relaxed and convivial manner. And, what’s more, by the end, they should have mastered the basics and more – all ready to go out into the world with a new enthusiasm for deepening their culinary knowledge and sharpening the techniques they have learned under the tutelage of Cookery School at Little Portland Street’s teachers. The idea is not only to impart the basics, but also to foster a love of cooking for the sheer joy of it, too. The classes will be led by Stefan Lind, who heads the teaching team at Cookery School; he will be joined each week by an untutored teen who will cook along, while those doing so from their own kitchens will be able to ask questions as the sessions get underway.

The programme has been endorsed by Professor Tim Spector, the brilliant brain who was in part responsible for developing the Covid-19 symptom app, as well as working on Zoe, a ground-breaking way of understanding how our individual bodies respond to food and, perhaps, the most significant development for years in combating the obesity epidemic.

The school says, ‘The National Food Strategy recognises the vital issue of the future health of the nation and ergo the relationship between children and cooking, and aims to address this in the second phase of the Strategy. Professor Tim Spector, like us at Cookery School, recognises the importance of healthy eating, and has wholeheartedly endorsed our National Cooking Programme. Learning to cook can no longer be shelved, and there is not time like the present to start.’

Equipping teenagers with the necessary skills to look after their nutrition and to make good food choices accounts, however, for only one half of the mission. The National Cooking Programme has also been devised to instil in the next generation the importance of how we cook and shop and the role it can play in reducing greenhouse gases. And amen to that.

Once the twenty weeks are over, Cookery School will be happy to share the information with adults who are keen to teach the tenets of the course in their own food tech kitchens. Meanwhile, all teenagers need do is check the list of ingredients needed ahead of each week, join the live and get cracking. (Here is a link to the list you will need for week one.) It’s free, it’ll be fun, and it will furnish you with a fantastic way to set teenagers up for healthy lives ahead. There is literally no downside to it. We say, join the food revolution!

By Nancy Alsop
June 2021

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.