This week many chefs around the country are taking time out from busy kitchens and businesses to share a little of their passion of food and cooking in Ireland’s classrooms, part of an annual initiative by Euro-toques Ireland – Irish branch of the Europe-wide ‘European Community of Chefs’ – to encourage healthier eating habits in children.
The idea behind the workshops is simply to get children interested in food; how it grows or is produced, where it comes from, how to prepare and eat it, and to encourage them to think and ask questions about what they eat. The events are taking place nationwide as part of Euro-toques ‘Mini-Chefs’ School Food Workshops week. Each workshop is headed up by a Euro-toques industry chef, in Galway this chef is Jp McMahon owner of Aniar Restaurant and the visiting school is the boys city centre school ‘The Bish’.
“These workshops are about sparking children’s interest in food and sharing our enthusiasm for it; growing it, cooking it, eating it”, says Ruth Hegarty, Secretary-General of Euro-toques Ireland. “It is about empowering children to make better food choices and giving them the skills and knowledge they need to do this”.
Workshops are interactive and cover everything from growing food and seasonality to healthy lunchbox ideas and simple recipes. The fundamental part of all the workshops is Taste – teaching children how to taste and encouraging them to use all their senses when they eat and to be open to trying a variety of different foods.
Euro-Toques chefs take a holistic approach to food education, encouraging children to look at food all the way along the chain from production to consumption. The concept behind the workshops is to promote interest and pleasure in food and cooking. There is no talk of nutrients, and vitamins or of what you should not eat. Instead the message is about taste and enjoyment, encouraging children to be more open to food, along with practical tips on what to look out for when buying food and how to have a more balanced approach to eating.