Sodexo Chef Serves Up Interactive Cooking Workshops With Autistic Students
Students with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism at LVS Oxford school enjoyed a series of engaging healthy cooking workshops with a top chef on Friday 7 February to inspire students to eat healthily, and celebrate the launch of a new hospitality and catering course. Tom Allen, Development Chef for Independent Schools at Sodexo, brought cooking to life by running practical sessions with every year group at the school for young people aged 11 to 19, allowing every student to take part in the cooking process under his tutelage.
LVS Oxford’s sixth formers are already running a café set up within the school grounds to allow them to gain experience of running a business, from marketing and food production to selling items, customer service and finances. Their session with Tom allowed them to find out ways to change their offerings to give them a new, healthy twist and help them encourage more sales. Tom showed them how to make a healthy granola recipe which they can add to their existing menu, and the students gave it a big thumbs up when they tried it for themselves. With LVS Oxford already providing horticulture lessons on site, and growing a range of fruit and vegetables including apples, the advice will allow them to follow the whole production cycle from growing to selling.
The school, whose current BTEC Level 2 Home Cooking Skills course has already helped propel one former student into a job as a chef in London, will be launching a new vocational course in hospitality and catering after Easter to help more students gain valuable qualifications and experience to help them follow a similar career path. The visit of top chef Tom Allen allowed the school’s 72 students to find out more about how to eat more healthily, and discover a love for cooking which could give them direction for the future.
Volunteers cracked eggs, measured ingredients, stirred them together and piped the mixture into cases to make a whole range of healthy muffins packed with fruit which they were then able to eat at lunchtime. Recipes were deliberately healthy and easy to prepare to help encourage the budding chefs to be creative themselves at home.
Tom Allen said: “It is important to all students to learn about food and how to ensure they have a healthy diet that can really benefit their education and learning. The students were really engaged and I was very impressed with the amount of volunteers who wanted to have a go at making things – it showed the confidence the students are gaining at the school. Their knowledge was also excellent about things such as sugars and carbohydrates”.
After the students had gone, the LVS Oxford teachers kept Tom Allen back after class to have a lesson of their own, as a session on wellbeing for staff saw them learn how to make healthy Thai fishcakes with the chef’s own special recipe.
Head of School Louisa Allison-Bergin said: “The sessions with Tom Allen were really valuable for all our students in a number of ways. We always seek to provide an engaging curriculum and this really brought cooking to life for them. It was important both in terms of helping them all learn about how to eat more healthily which can be highly beneficial to learning, and also giving them ideas for future careers within the catering industry, part of our commitment to helping them become independent adults when they leave LVS Oxford”.
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