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Edinburgh Food Social Chef, Joanna, shares her experience of teaching kids cooking classes in Craigmillar over the summer holidays.

Every Wednesday I run the Good Food Youth Club at The Venchie Children and Young People’s project. 

The Venchie has been operating for over 60 years and supports over 200 children in Craigmillar every week. It offers a breakfast club, a holiday club, and daily classes on arts and crafts, sports, and cooking. At The Venchie, there is something for every child to learn and enjoy. 

Food is an integral part of The Venchie’s mission. Not only do they ensure that the kids are fed when they are there, but they also provide a fortnightly food pantry for local families. Food education also plays an important part in enhancing the well-being of the local community. We are thrilled to be working with The Venchie to provide a fun and informative cookery classes.


“It was great having Edinburgh Food Social involved in our holiday programme and working with the children to produce a fantastic lunch was amazing. Children who might not have the opportunity to taste such homemade quality food seemed to take to trying it without any bother. It was nice hearing a busy bubbly kitchen with lots of great chattering and all the children involved loved the experience and seemed to be proud that other children were eating food that they made.” Susan Heron, manager of The Venchie

Each week, I spend two hours teaching the children about nutrition, seasonality, sustainability and healthy cooking. It is often the highlight of my week and seldom feels like work – until it comes to the clean-up! Perpetually curious and engaged, it is wonderful to see the children exploring novel foods and methods, working together to create a healthy and delicious lunch for their peers.

Serving homemade tomato soup at The Venchie

Before serving, the kids and I sit down to flick through cookery books and discuss what everyone would like to make the following week. Despite only having an hour and a half each session, the kids have created some wonderful meals – homemade meatballs, pizzas and ‘fake-aways’, to name a few. In the process they have also learnt a lot of essential cookery skills.

From the moment the kids step into the kitchen they are keen to get stuck in to cooking and tasting as much as possible. They approach every task with enthusiasm; from washing their hands and then failing, rather adorably, to tie their aprons in a way that doesn’t leave them swamped, to doing the dishes.

It’s always a joy when the first child agrees to taste a bit of blue cheese or green juice. Their positive murmurings prompt a ripple effect of “I want some!” around the room. This enthusiasm doesn’t wane for the whole session. The kids are as excited to serve their creations as they were to make them. The pride they exude as they serve each other shows just how much of an effect cooking and eating well can have on our lives. 

With the return of school, my time as their teacher comes to an end – until the next holiday, anyway. But thanks to the Good Food Youth Club, I can rest easy knowing that the kids of Craigmillar are being well fed and well supported in their journey to leading healthy and happy lives.