The Australian Education Reporter - - GREAT LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS - EMMA DAVIES

WITH more than 20 years in restau­rants around the world – in­clud­ing the first Fif­teen Restau­rant in Aus­tralia which taught un­der­priv­i­leged youth to be chefs – nu­mer­ous TV ap­pear­ances, and four best­selling cook­books, celebrity chef To­bie Put­tock is pas­sion­ate about teach­ing young peo­ple the ben­e­fits of get­ting in the kitchen.

Q. How im­por­tant is good food and nutri­tion for young kids?

So­ci­ety sur­rounds us with glossy pack­ets and at­trac­tive ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns draw­ing us in to eat un­healthy prod­ucts. Now more than ever is the time to get your kids in the kitchen and get them cook­ing.

I al­ways find that when my daugh­ter is in­volved with the cook­ing she takes an in­ter­est and at the same time I’m giv­ing her a skill ev­ery per­son should have.

Q. Do you think food and nutri­tion should be a stronger fo­cus in chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion?

Hell yes! Learn­ing about nutri­tion and learn­ing to cook ba­sic food should be com­pul­sory!

We have be­come a so­ci­ety of con­ve­nience, but obe­sity and di­a­betes def­i­nitely isn’t con­ve­nient.

These ill­nesses can be pre­vented. It was com­pul­sory to learn Latin at the school I went to, yet I wasn’t taught to steam veg­eta­bles or boil an egg.

Ed­u­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing, and with some early ed­u­ca­tion kids are given the knowl­edge to un­der­stand the out­comes of what they are be­ing fed at home.

There are a so many pro­grams out there ed­u­cat­ing kids about food, but for me it needs to be com­pul­sory in schools.

Q. Do you think schools need stronger Vo­ca­tional Train­ing pro­grams around food and nutri­tion?

100 per cent. School should be as much about teach­ing kids life skills as gear­ing them to make money.

In my mind the sys­tem is all back to front. The sys­tem seems to con­cen­trate on cre­at­ing money mak­ers and doesn’t nur­ture our most ba­sic needs.

Q. Do you think we need to ed­u­cate par­ents on health­ier food choices?

We can do all the ed­u­cat­ing we want but if the par­ents aren’t on board the ex­am­ple is not be­ing set.

The ma­jor­ity of the time when I see over­weight par­ents the kids are also over­weight; although ge­net­ics will play a part, diet can also dras­ti­cally help re­duce obe­sity.

Q. What ad­vice would you give to de­ter­mine the best foods to sell at the can­teen?

I think it is wise the school con­sult a nutri­tion­ist; there will of­ten be a par­ent who is a nutri­tion­ist who would be more than will­ing to do­nate their time to help shape a schools of­fer­ing to bet­ter the eat­ing habits of the stu­dents.

Q. Do you think school gar­dens could en­gage more stu­dents to learn about sus­tain­abil­ity and where their food comes from?

We’ve all seen Jamie Oliver’s shows where some kids aren’t sure what a car­rot looks like.

I think giv­ing the kids own­er­ship of what they are eat­ing is ev­ery­thing.

Be­ing a par­ent I to­tally get that feed­ing kids their daily veg por­tions is not easy, but there are ways of get­ting kids in­volved with cook­ing and mak­ing recipes that are fun to make and healthy.

Celebrity Chef To­bie Put­tock.

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