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Compulsory cooking lessons back on the menu

COOKING UP ENTHUSIASM: Levi Roots talks to young people

PLANS FOR compulsory cooking lessons in schools may be a necessary intervention for young people as research reveals just 30 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 feel confident in the kitchen.

An overhaul of the National Curriculum will see food and nutrition classes taught in schools from September.

Maggie Sims, head of Let’s Get Cooking at The Children’s Food Trust, said: “We think being able to look after your health is just as important as learning to read and write – which is why practical cooking must be part of children’s compulsory education, and we are thrilled that it will be soon.”

The change in curriculum arrives just in time, as a national study found that 60 per cent of 16-24 year olds do not feel confident in the kitchen and 16 per cent found cooking stressful.

Businessman and celebrity chef Levi Roots believes that children should be encouraged to cook more – especially those from an African or Caribbean background – so “tradition doesn’t disappear”.

The Reggae Reggae Sauce creator told The Voice: “It’s sad that Afro-Caribbean children don’t have cooking skills like older generations. I was cooking big meals like chicken rice and peas from the age of 12.”

The introduction of cooking lessons throughout primary and secondary schools will include lessons on preparing dishes, understanding seasonality, developing cooking techniques and nutrition.

A spokesperson from the British Nutrition Foundation told The Voice: “Children need to develop a range of practical transferable skills to help prepare and cook a range of dishes, appropriate to their need, family, friends, culture, budget and season.”

Roots, who is currently working on his School of Life Tour, in which he visits schools across the country to encourage pupils to cook, believes that changes to lifestyle is one cause for the lack of confidence in the kitchen.

“Parents are too busy and tired to cook,” he said. “We can’t just depend on parents. I think schools have a large responsibly to set the wheels in motion otherwise these young people will leave home for the first time to go university, and won’t even know how to boil an egg.”

Roots, who was born in Jamaica, thinks that creative ideas to engage youngsters are needed.

“A cookbook with Caribbean and African recipes for children and teenagers would be very beneficial.”

He joked: “Imagine if Beyoncé and Jay Z came out with a cookbook. It would be amazing and everyone would want it because they’d be cooking and eating the same food as celebrities.”

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