The Cooking School at Dean Clough has hosted an inspirational dining event with a group of Calderdale teenagers who have sight difficulties. The session was filmed by ITV regional news show Calendar and featured by the Halifax Courier. The 9 young chefs cooked up an impressive range of dishes and showed that their visual impairment was no barrier to a very high standard.
The teens are already passionate about food and have learned about cooking and dining with the Calderdale Specialist Inclusion Service. It helps children and young people who have visual impairments with their education both in and out of school.
Executive Chef Matthew Benson Smith led the half day session at the Cooking School on Tuesday December 20th. The Teens cooked their way through an enticing menu of spicy potato wedges, salmon filo parcels and winter berry crumble tarts. Matthew was really impressed with the young people’s skill level and their passion for food, _”Of all the many courses we teach here, nothing gives me greater pleasure than working with young people like these. Their enthusiasm for cooking means their disability doesn’t affect their skill level. They need have no worry about cooking for themselves in the future”._
Inclusion Officer Sue Mort from Calderdale Council wholeheartedly supports Matthew’s view of the session which was funded by Halifax Society for the Blind _”The young people attend a weekly cooking club run by the Visual Impairment Team. Visiting the cooking school gives them the opportunity to be inspired by professional chefs who can further develop their love of food and excellent cooking skills. This is the sort of activity which develops confidence and self esteem as well as providing essential life skills. _
_”Today was a fantastic opportunity to raise their aspirations as they were able to cook in a fabulous kitchen while being supported by professional chefs.”_
The youngsters came from Mytholmroyd, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Elland and Halifax. Catering suppliers Russums donated a set of protective gloves to give the teenagers confidence with their knife skills.
The Cooking School at Dean Clough is a state of the art venue offering 20 work stations and welcomes groups from all parts of the community. All profits from the School go to the UK-wide charity Focus on Food which inspires children and communities to cook.
Executive Chef Matthew Benson Smith is qualified to teach all ages of students at the Cooking School with experience in Further Education, as well as the catering and hospitality industry. He hopes that the Dining Club will encourage more young people with visual and other impairments to gain more confidence through cooking at the School.