Giving the young a taste of work

Cooking for the Commonwealth Project
Cooking for the Commonwealth Project

The sad tale of 10 budding cooks with just a handful of utensils and no kitchen, direction or recipes in sight has found a happy ending in Kelso.

It came about with an offer of help from Cheviot Youth’s Kelso Youth Project Cooking for the Commonwealth project.

The six-week scheme starts today (Thursday) and ‘visits’ six Commonwealth countries, cooking and sampling a range of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes.

The course includes quizzes, music and an exchange of Commonwealth facts, and, at its conclusion, there will be a pop-up restaurant to run. This restaurant, Kelso’s first, will open and close on Commonwealth Day (March 9) and will serve three dishes taken from the course, with dessert and refreshments, to 35 older people at the home of Kelso Youth Project – The Planet.

The culinary journey these budding young chefs will take will see them ‘travel’ from Singapore, cooking steamed fish with noodles; then on to South Africa for the spicy, fruity mince dish that is ‘Bobotie’, finishing with a Jamaican goat curry with rice and peas, while also heading to and cooking dishes from India, Malta and Canada.

The aims of the lottery-funded project are to offer young people not in employment, education or training a set of skills to help and strengthen personal and social skills, while increasing confidence and motivation and, ultimately, lead to further training or employment. This is the first time Cheviot Youth has worked with Galashiels Works, which offers young people aged 16 to 25 years a 10-week course preparing them for employment through support, course work, volunteering opportunities and placements.

Cheviot Youth manager Ian Rendall Reid is delighted to be working with Galashiels Works and helping young people access the Cooking for the Commonwealth project.

“Both myself and Mark Timmins, manager of Galashiels Works, believe the experience gained and skills learnt through this particular project will greatly benefit participants,” he said.

The young people, by being introduced to various cooking styles and techniques, will be encouraged to think of others both in Kelso and the wider Commonwealth family.

And after the meal has been cooked, eaten and the dishes all tidied away, the guests and their cooks, plus front-of-house staff, will enjoy a specially-commissioned musical programme from local singers and musicians.

David Harvey, chair of Cheviot Youth, added: “We hope this course will be an inspiration to other groups in the Borders and beyond to get out their pots and pans and start cooking.”