Te Aro School is about as vibrant and bustling a learning environment as any kid could hope for. Hidden away at the south end of The Terrace, Te Aro is overseen by its remarkable principal, Sue Clement, and teaches children from over forty nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Te Aro is one of six Wellington schools engaged in the Garden to Table program.
This April, our partner charity Garden to Table launch the Ten Million Meals Project. This five-year venture aims to see every primary school in New Zealand taking part in Garden to Table and have kids across the country growing, harvesting, and preparing ten million garden-inspired meals each and every year.
Hot stuff! Little India Porirua showed a bunch of budding chefs from Cannons Creek School the magic that happens in a professional restaurant kitchen. Garden to Table volunteer extraordinaire Tess Clarke from Healthy Future Families Trust got to share the experience and a decent meal at the end. Read about her full on fun day.
The trip to Little India was a huge success, the children were so excited. Most of them had never been to a restaurant before, so it was a really special experience.
We took a group of eight year six children who have shown particular interest in cooking in the Garden to Table classes. Amit – the restaurant manager explained to the kids how the professional kitchen operates. They learned that much of the food preparation takes place well before there are any customers in!
The kids got to see all the spices being prepared for roasting for the garam masala. They were able to see, touch and smell all the different components that make up the curries. Marinating, cooking tandoori chicken, aloo matter and butter chicken, making various Indian breads, and rolling roti were all new skills learnt by the team.
Finally we were seated at a table in the restaurant with other diners. Eating in a restaurant was a new experience for most of these children and we talked about how people behave when they eat out and are sharing communal food with others. One girl said she was now the only person in her family who had ever been to a ‘flash restaurant’. The children embraced this new experience and their behavior was faultless. I was very proud of them all.
We were finally served an amazing feast. Only two of the kids thought they might have eaten Indian food before and they were all overwhelmed by the new flavours and smells. They loved the food and demolished it all!
The experience was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. One boy said "this is the best day of my life". Another was so keen to stay that he offered to stay behind and do the dishes! He was told that he could come back and ask for a job when he was older and that he would start with dish washing.
I asked the children over lunch what their highlights from the day were. Reponses included: "everything". "Rolling out the bread". "Being allowed to go in the kitchen and see what they do". "Learning about all the different herbs and spices used in Indian cooking and the techniques they use". "Eating all the food".
We are very grateful to Jagnu, the owner of the Little India restaurants for making this amazing experience possible for these children.