As some of you may know in July 2010 I left my job to start a business. I had taught cookery a few afternoons a week in my old school but decided to combine my science background, food geekery along with 5 years experience in education to teach children how to cook. The last year has had huge highs and lows and it’s been one steep learning curve but I don’t regret it. The smile on a child’s face when they finally master something as simple as cracking an egg without shell going everywhere is priceless. I know the market I work in is very different to similar business throughout the country and I tailor the classes depending on the pupils and area. The main goal is for me to provide accessible, realistic, cross-curricular and creative food education for all, no matter your background or budget. One of my business goals is to make enough to fund me to do MSc Food & Nutrition Policy at City. I’m getting there slowly!
My first year in business has culminated in me running my first cookery school for 6-13 year olds over a week in the Summer holiday. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Although I teach cookery weekly this was a different kettle of fish. I was working with kids and parents I knew, however this time was working in a different capacity and I had to prove myself as they had all paid good money to be there. One of the big balancing acts in business is making sure your product or service is affordable, exciting, worthwhile but at the same time you make a profit. Not always easy. Until a month ago I didn’t appreciate how expensive simple things like cardboard cake boxes were!
The classes were spread over 4 days and had different themes: Americas, Picnic, Italy along with Cake & Biscuit decorating. Over the 4 days we cooked from over 18 recipes including baked doughnuts, pasta, pizza, homemade lemonaid, jelly boats, bean burgers and the intrigingly named freezer bag ice cream. The classes were not just about cooking, it was about learning new skills, trying new foods and watching food science in action as well as initiating scientific questioning. While making the pizza dough the children were able to watch a glass of yeast, warm water and sugar come to life and when making the freezer bag ice cream we used an electric thermometer to note the change adding salt to the ice made to the temperature. As well as going home with some of the food they had cooked, the children also had an apron, recipe sheets and biscuit cutter prizes (if they were lucky enough to win them). Lunchtime was based around the family style dining concept where we were all involved with cooking and serving lunch.
A popular part of the week was a cookbook table where the children had a large choice of books to read including Funky Lunch, Fiona Bird’s Kids’ Kitchen, My Daddy Cooks and Revolting Recipes. It was great seeing the kids discussing the recipes and compiling their perfect menus. Given my initial nerves the classes went really well and parents & pupils have asked if there will be classes in the future. The kids have requested I show them how to make black beetle cakes and edible dirt closer to Halloween.
Well the classes will be back, even better than before and as from September I’ll be teaching adults too. If someone had told me 2 years ago I’d be a business owner teaching cookery and being paid to do other foodie things I don’t think I would have believed them. Moral of the story – don’t give up on dreams.