Thursday, 2 March 2017

It's a Classroom! It's a Kitchen! It's... Both!

Cooking days enable students to put their new knowledge into practice. Here, students
 are investigating the Maillard reaction and molecular gastronomy.

Greenwood’s Food and Culture course combines academic content with hands-on cooking experience - and needs a space that supports both. Our versatile rooftop classroom supports everything from classwork to culinary creations.

From Monday-Thursday, students spend their classes delving into a food-related issue; they investigate kitchen science, learn more about nutrition and study the relationship between food and the environment. At the end of the week, it’s time to put everything they’ve learned to the test.

On Fridays, this rooftop space transforms from a classroom into a working kitchen. A portable convection oven and two convection burners enable students to whip up a wide variety of dishes. So far, the class has prepared pancakes, sushi, hummus, ice cream, Vietnamese spring rolls and more - each with a specific connection to the curriculum.

“The cooking days enable students to put their new knowledge into practice,” says teacher Michelle Douglas. “For example, the nutrition unit investigates new research in gut health, and we’re making our own kombucha (a fermented tea drink) as an illustration of those concepts.” As they’re preparing food, students also sharpen their knife skills, refine basic cooking skills and learn valuable food safety and etiquette tips. The great nutrition and food preparation knowledge they learn here will serve them well when they leave home.

Chef Sang Kim not only taught our students how to make sushi, but imparted valuable
information about the history of this Japanese dish and on food insecurity in Toronto.

Cooking days also provide another opportunity for Michelle to customize learning for students. “Each dish comes with many different tasks that can be assigned to students based on their readiness,” Michelle says.

Even hands-on kitchen days incorporate some history and theory. Chef Sang Kim recently visited Greenwood to give a class on sushi-making - but in doing so, he also imparted valuable information about the history of this Japanese dish and on food insecurity in Toronto. “It’s an academic course, and the content is challenging,” Michelle says. “We have high expectations for students.”

The location of the classroom is also conducive to the well-being aspect of the course. Large windows and glass walls bring in plenty of natural light; in the spring, the class can open a sliding door to the terrace and enjoy the fruits of their Friday labours outside.

Here’s what one Grade 11 student has to say about the course:

“Greenwood’s Food & Culture course really prepares students for the future. Throughout the week, our learning is focused on the techniques needed to prepare a certain dish. We learn about the origins of ingredients, their cultural significance, nutrition, and the science behind the method. Each Friday, we have the opportunity to practise these newly acquired skills through cooking and baking. The combination of theory and practical learning fully engages the class."

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