Hyland House School Junior Master Chef

22nd February 2018

On Sunday 11 February, Hyland House Seventh-day Adventist School held an outstanding Junior Master Chef competition. This event saw 17 enthusiastic pupils from Years 3 to 6, split in 3 groups, where they had to cook a set menu. The school's Headteacher, also South England Conference (SEC) Education director, Mrs Gina Abbequaye, said that the competition was a result of excellent collaboration amongst the pupils and the amazing work put in by the teaching staff. The competition was originally scheduled for December 2017 but had been postponed due to harsh weather conditions.

The participating students were part of the 10-week Healthy Cooking Club which took place each Tuesday after school, during the Autumn term. DSC_0340-judgesDuring this time, the pupils learnt many skills that are needed to cook successfully. "I was happy to be able to chop the vegetables, holding a knife had been such a challenge at the beginning for me" said the youngest participant from Year 3.

The pupils cooked many recipes over the 10- week period but for the competition they chose to create their own menu ‒ 'Mediterranean on a Plate' as a starter, 'Tropical Aloha' as the main course, and a 'Trio of Delights' as the dessert. "We discussed amongst ourselves which group would cook which meal. Each group was happy with their choices" said Naomi, a Year 5 pupil.

Mrs Abbequaye who is very passionate about education said, "when we offer our pupils extra-curricular classes, what we want is for the pupils to be able to learn specific skills through the process." Mrs Abbequaye added that "For this one, we first wanted them to learn about the health message, how what we eat impacts our bodies and our everyday life."

Other lessons DSC_0345-Tropical-Aloha-Main-Courseincluded how to use weighing scales; the thought process of choosing ingredients; multiplication of the recipe if it needs to feed more people than what the recipe serves; and clearing up after cooking. A big part of the learning process, was that the pupils had to consider the visual presentation, because 'we eat with our eyes too'. This was done in Design Technology (D/T) where they had to design what their finished meal would look like. These processes became what the judges also scored their marks on.

On the day, as the pupils entered the spacious, well-equipped Home Economics room, there was a sense of excitement. This excitement remained for the entire day! After Mrs Abbequaye prayed, she called out, 'Ready steady cook!' and the competition began. Throughout the 3-hour process, the children appeared to be calm and in control of the steps they had to take. There was a strong sense of teamwork, as they received minimal help from teachers. "It's amazing to see how well they work together" said Year 1 teacher, Mrs Smith.

There was also a sense of family everywhere even on the main course recipe which read 'Green Salad tossed in Grandma's authentic dressing!' Grandma (Mrs Ruth Clarke-Scarlett) is the lady who facilitates the Cooking Club. DSC_0358-Desert-Trio-of-Delights"We are so thankful to Grandma Ruth who brings her vast cookery knowledge to empower the pupils" said Nursery and Reception teacher Mrs Gemma Asafo-Adjei, "it's also good that we have the full support of the parents and that they are here for the judging part", she added.

The competitive children were set to give the judges a hard time. Their finished dishes were immaculate. The judging team comprised of Mr Jongou; Visual Artist, speaker and writer Judith Makaniankhondo Nyirenda and two Year 12 students Gloria and Nicole who had spent a week at Hyland House School for work experience. According to the judges, the food was appealing both to the eye and taste buds! It was a real challenge to choose an overall winner.

"As it was clear that each team had given their all into the preparation of the food, we decided to first judge on the following merits; best tasting food, best healthy food, and best visual presentation", said Mr Jongou. The winners were dessert, starter and then the main course respectively. All the pupils were given a certificate of participation, a Hyland House special wooden spoon and a cookery book as a congratulatory gesture of their participation.

All of the recipes can be found on the school website.

There was joy from all teams, then silence as the overall winner was yet to be announced. The judges announced that the winners of the Hyland House Junior Master Chef were chosen because of their visual brilliance and how they brought to life their theme. The winning course was the main course, 'Tropical Aloha'!

The pupils were DSC_0314-Final-Touchesjumping up and down with joy, Mrs Abbequaye congratulated them and presented to them their well-deserved Hyland House School Junior Master Chef apron. "We are so happy that we won", said Jahnia, a Year 5 pupil, with a very big smile on her face.

The ending of the event was full of a celebratory spirit. The parents were tasting the food, a truly pleasurable moment to witness. One parent said, "this school is amazing, and I am happy that my son has been part of this process but also continues to learn in such a nurturing and caring environment."


[Judith Makaniankhondo Nyirenda ]

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