Learn to Cook CCA – Teaching Students Basic Skills in the Kitchen

Cooking is an important skill that becomes a huge part of many people’s lives. However, it’s often overlooked by many kids. Many people don’t learn how to cook until they’ve become independent and become overwhelmed. I wanted to help build that independence early among students so that they don’t have to face that. That’s why the opportunity to lead the Cooking CCA was one that I couldn’t refuse.

I worked with Jonathan, a DP1 student, to lead the Cooking CCA. It was a unique opportunity as adequate safety precautions because of the pandemic would mean that the CCA could not run unless it was online. Other CCAs were negatively impacted by being online but it was an opportunity for me. We researched to make different recipes every time that would not only be feasible in the 45 minutes to an hour that we had but also make it possible for us to teach the students different cooking techniques like cutting vegetables, adjusting the seasoning, cooking time/heat and other small skills. This was the focus of the lessons for us rather than the product. I wanted the students to take away a new skill or hack every session (while having fun). It was a great experience as I learned so much while directing lessons in both an informative but also enjoyable and engaging way.

As a leader, I had to direct the lessons and make sure nobody fell behind. The major issue was making sure everybody could keep up while staying within the time constraint. Additionally, there would be students who would need help (sometimes at the same time), and this would be a challenge as I wasn’t there to easily assist them physically. It made me develop my skills as a communicator to make sure that everyone understood. Something difficult to plan was when students didn’t have certain ingredients. One incident stuck to me for this. The recipe called for some vegetable stock which the student did not have. As the vegetable stock is a bit more of a unique ingredient, the student was concerned about finding a substitute ingredient during the lesson. After a minute of scratching my head, the lightbulb went off in my head. I recommended him to use Maggi Masala instead as this was an exact situation that I was in some time ago. I enjoyed the small hurdles like this, it helped the students think creatively and make them better problem-solvers and more independent without even planning for it. 

A key element to my and Jonathan’s goal was teaching them something that could be applied to a wide variety of situations. Things like kitchen organization and time management in the kitchen were things that we agreed were important and so we focused on planning lessons in a way that would build that. A lot of the students were quite a bit younger than us, which we initially thought would be a challenge, but we were able to overcome it by designing our lessons to be manageable and making some great effort on the students’ side as well.

It was an extremely fulfilling experience as well. Although I am not anywhere near a professional chef in any regard, I was still able to pass on some of my knowledge to the students. I felt like I was learning with the students every lesson. I’m grateful that I was able to not only partake but lead the activity. It was quite a rewarding experience; both the students and I would learn and get to eat a delicious meal by the end of the session.

by Srihan, DP 2