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Online Cooking classes open up a world of opportunities

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Sarah Pittaway

I have been running Cook Stars Hull East and Holderness as a franchisee since October 2018. I grew up in Filey and attended all of the schools there and regularly return to visit my mum. I moved to Hull in 2004 to become a secondary school Food teacher, I went on to become head of D&T. I am passionate about teaching children and young people to cook however this was no longer the main part of my role. I needed a career change and Cook Stars was the perfect choice, it gives me the opportunity to teach a wide range of children with the added bonus of working alongside my family. My 2 children (Noah 8 and Phoebe 4) join in with some of the classes.

At the beginning of March 2020, I was running 8 busy weekly Cooking Classes in a variety of venues, I had over 50 regular Cook Stars aged from 3- 17 years old as well as a diary full of exciting parties, workshops and bespoke sessions for schools, organisations and community groups. Everything changed for us on 17th March! It was becoming evident that the Coronavirus pandemic was escalating, and further restrictions were necessary. At this time no one knew how long it would last or what the restrictions would be. We did know that face to face classes could not continue.

So, what could we do?

We quickly came up with a class in a bag. We made individual bags of ingredients, craft activity, snack, drink and a recipe card (everything they would need for a class), for every Cook Star and went out to deliver to all of our customers. At this point I had no experience of making videos and had never even imagined that it would be possible to cook live online. Despite this I made a video and sent it out so that the Cook Stars could cook along with me just as they would in class. The response was fabulous, I was so pleased to see lots of photos of our amazing Cook Stars enjoying this new way of cooking. However, this was short lived as the first lockdown was announced. Time to rethink again.

Cooking is so important for mental well-being, it offers a huge variety of learning opportunities (maths, science, and literacy) and can help with development of motor, social and communication skills. Children need to develop a healthy relationship with food and can do this by cooking dishes from scratch, learning about different ingredients and trying new foods. I wanted to offer our Cook Stars the opportunity to continue to cook with me, to develop these skills and build their confidence. In a time of so much uncertainty it was important that all of my Cook Stars had the chance of some normality.

As the guidelines have changed, so have I! I quickly embraced the available technology and started to offer classes Via Zoom as well as post cook along videos on my Facebook page. I miss my face-to-face classes but there are so many benefits to running my sessions online. I have Cook Stars cooking with me each week from around the UK and have cooked with Cook Stars as far away as Vietnam. I am working with some schools to offer ‘Cook-along’ sessions that children at home can do alongside the children of keyworkers that are attending schools. I have welcomed so many new Cook Stars to our classes that have returned for a number of different sessions.

The feedback I have had is overwhelmingly positive, I am regularly sent some amazing photos of Cook Stars enjoying my online classes and it is so lovely to see.

I always cook along with the Cook Stars and ensure that everyone is ready to move onto the next step. The sessions have a very relaxed feel to them, and everyone has fun. I am able to answer questions and offer advice and everyone gets the chance to interact with me and each other. We alternate between sweet and savoury dishes and always make something different. When a session is booked, we send out a shopping and equipment list. We then send out a zoom link so all you have to do is click on the link and cook along with me.

One year on and things look very different. We don’t know what the future holds but for now we are continuing to offer our classes, workshops and parties online.

Weekly Academy / Family Cook Along, Thursday 5-6pm.

These are suitable for younger children to cook with an adult helper or for older children and teens to cook independently! During these sessions we make a full meal or dessert.

Weekly Saturday Cook Along, 2-3pm.

These FUN cooking classes are suitable for children age 2-12yrs, we make a variety of meals and snacks. When you book these classes, you will also be sent a craft activity which we do together while the food is cooking and a recipe card so you can cook the dish again.

Mother’s Day Workshop - Sunday 14th March 11am-12.30pm.

We will be making and decorating a delicious gift cake and doing a fun themed craft.

Easter workshops – Sunday 4th March 11am-12.30pm.

Easter themed Cooking and craft.

Our weekly classes can be booked individually or as a term. You can see what we are cooking each week, book, or find out more information by going to our schedule online

We also have 3 fabulous online party packages Cookies, Cupcakes or Pizza and Ice-cream. For each of these everyone receives a fabulous party pack including a chef’s hat to decorate, balloons, crafts, stickers, a bingo card and some additional things to use in the class i.e. rolling pin, icing bottle, icing stamps, sprinkles etc. These are great to celebrate a birthday or just get a group of friends or family together to do something a little bit different.

I would love to welcome some Filey children to Cook Stars. Enter our competition to win a free place at one of our classes or workshops and a Cook Stars Goody bag including crafts, recipe cards and a bake at home cookie bag.

To enter send a photo of something your Cook Star (age 2- 16) has cooked or baked. Tell us the age of the Cook Star, what it is they have made and why they liked making it.

You can use a recipe of your own, one of the recipes on my Facebook page or a variation of the cheesecake cook along recipe on Facebook.

You can contact Cook Stars on. Tel -07555 575605. Or Visit our website

See regular updates of what we offer and free cooking videos like our Facebook page @cookstarshulleastandholderness

Follow us on twitter @sarahpcookstars

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