Aberdeen budget cookery class project has proved its worth

An affordable cooking project has served up some delicious results nearly a year after its launch.

CFINE’s Cook at the ’Nook will be celebrating its first anniversary in November and has already made good progress.

In 2016 social enterprise CFINE opened its community kitchen after identifying there was a lack of such community facilities in Aberdeen.

James Welsh, a cook school assistant with Cook at the ’Nook, said: “We teach people very basic, everyday healthly food options.

“We find that the programme has become quite popular; people’s confidence grows from just taking part in a class to running one.”

So far, around 300 people have been through the kitchen and attended the workshops and classes on offer.

And according to those who have taken Cook at the ’Nook, responses show it has had a positive impact, with 80% of participants saying they were cooking more at home and preparing healthier options.

Also, 90% of people felt the recipes were getting easier each week although, in fact, they were becoming more complicated.

Cooking on a budget is one of the initiatives that aims to teach the skills involved in making affordable healthy meals.

The classes include planning, shopping, cooking to save money; how to eat more healthily and how to make use of FareShare, a community food initiative.

The courses, which are free, last for six weeks and are available to anyone on a low income.

James said: “Typically, a session in the kitchen with me or Sean involves looking to see what produce we have and deciding what recipes we can make with it.

“A lot of the time you have people thinking that something like a curry is expensive to make, but it’s not – the most expensive thing would be the chicken.

“I think cooking is an important skill to have.”

Kelly Donaldson, a 37-year-old Torry resident, said she first found out about the project from a flyer she saw at the Deeside Family Centre.

When she called CFINE to find out about the classes, she was told they had no volunteers and gladly offered to be a helper.

Before taking part Kelly, who has battled depression, said she would never have thought she might discover a passion for cooking, but now finds it “therapeutic”.

Kelly has gone on to help people learn how to cook in the community kitchen and tries to ease their anxieties.

She said she had been teaching a group of mums who lacked confidence in their cooking abilities and one woman was even moved to tears when she pulled her dish out of the oven.

Kelly also recalls a participant in her class teaching her a recipe.

“I remember her being quiet and shy from the first class and then telling me she would show me how to make crab cakes,” she said.

“It’s about the little steps and building up your confidence. It’s so great to see people cook from scratch and growing.”

CFINE is now seeking funding to help it keep the programme running.