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Cookery workshop London

cookery workshop

Here is what Rachel, a young person with hemiplegia, thought of the first cookery workshop HemiHelp ran in London.

The day started off at 10am with young adults (aged 16-25) coming from as far as Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells to take part. There were 12 participants in total, divided into groups in three kitchen areas.

The tutor, Fiona Hamilton-Fairley (CEO and Principal), started off with an introduction about the Kids Cookery School which is a charity that teaches children and young people with severe physical and learning disabilities to cook. Then, she gave us a very informative talk on food hygiene and safety.

cookery workshop

Karen Mount, HemiHelp Transition Adviser, brought along specialist kitchen gadgets for the participants to try at the workshop. Fiona’s view, however, is that many of the gadgets on the market designed for disabled people are not always helpful and that in her workshop they would not be needed.

We spent the morning session cooking the food that we were going to eat for lunch. The menu comprised of vegetable samosas, mixed vegetable frittata and apple crumble, all of which were to be made from scratch.

The first task was to chop up the vegetables that would be used in the day’s cooking. For people with full use of their arms and hands this would be a straight forward task, but for people with hemiplegia, this can be more challenging. To chop up vegetables Fiona taught us the spider hand technique (keeping fingers as vertical as possible – a bit like the shape of a spider – so that they are as out of the way from the knife as possible). For some it took a bit of practise and ingenuity whilst others in the group found it easier to do it one-handed which was surprisingly effective.

cookery workshop

Another challenging task was cracking the eggs needed for the frittata. We were taught a different technique: gently tapping the egg on the work surface cracking the shell but leaving the membrane intact, instead of using the edge of the bowl or with a knife which is the most commonly taught method. Then using both thumbs either side of the fractured shell, pull the shell apart. This method also lowers the risk of breaking the yolk if separation of the egg white and yolk is desired.

All the dishes were well made and by lunchtime everybody could not wait to eat the rewards of the morning’s work. The afternoon session continued with more cooking; this time we made lasagne and a giant cookie.

After all the food was cooked and packed away, it was clear that as Fiona had said at the beginning of the day, most of the gadgets that Karen had brought along were not needed. But some young people took them away to see if they would find them useful when they carried on cooking on their own. The exception was the Dycem non-slip mats that proved useful when using the mixing bowls.

Everyone made fantastic food, had fun and learnt that they can cook, which was the main goal for the day!

>> To find more information about HemiHelp's independent living workshops click here

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