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Girls' School Cooks with Words

September 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Adding a dash of flavour to their English writing classes is top chef, Edward Paje who has been running master cooking lessons for the Year 4 girls over the past two weeks. Edward, whose daughter attends the Girls’ School, is the owner of Neptune Restaurant in the Viaduct. During his visits he has been demonstrating how to prepare and cook a substantial dinner meal that the girls then make themselves.

The practical lessons are an introduction to the girls’ procedural writing classes where they use their time in the kitchen to succinctly describe the process of making and/or doing something. For their writing, the students watch Edward model how to cook a particular dish, then in small groups they work in collaboration following the recipe steps. Back in the classroom, the girls deconstruct Edward’s instructions by writing them in a structured and ordered format.

On the menu for their first lesson last week was 'En Papillote' which is French for 'paper bag cookery'. The dish is unique in the way it cooks by steaming and baking inside tin foil and baking paper parcels. Under the skilful guide of the culinary whizz, the girls prepared layers of chicken and vegetables and drizzled the dish with a herb and stock butter sauce before putting their folded pouches into a hot oven. The results were worth the wait as the delighted class of girls carefully opened their parcels and had the pleasure of eating!

Yesterday, the girls were challenged with another of Edward’s signature dishes - roast Latin rubbed chicken breast, roasted Portobello mushrooms, kumara mash with crusted feta and pistachio nuts served with a honey mustard sauce. In stages, Edward talked the girls through preparing the chicken and vegetables and making the finishing sauce. For the presentation, he showed the class how to plate up the food in a stack like a professional.

Year 4 Teacher, Mr Andrew Finn says the practical lessons for the writing classes started off simply by making bite-sized hors d'oeuvresnacks earlier in the term, with the girls working their way up to more complex dishes. As the difficulty level of the recipes progressed, so did their writing.

Mr Finn said that aside from building on their cooking and writing techniques, there were other valuable attributes the girls were learning. ‘Communication skills, self-discipline and knowing your role in the kitchen are all very important when you’re cooking as part of a team,’ he says. ‘There has also been great parental support with a number of Year 4 and 5 parents coming along to help out.’ He said it was pleasing that some of the girls have taken the lessons a step further and extended themselves by making the dishes for their families at home.

The two lessons have been highly successful so far with the girls enjoying and learning new skills in the kitchen and turning these practical experiences into theory on paper.

Edward Paje – Owner/Head Chef, Neptune Restaurant

Philippines-born Edward started out in the kitchen at the age of 14, cooking with his Aunties and Uncles and Mum who was a chef for 27 years, so says he knows how it feels to learn at a young age. ‘Cooking is now natural to me so I love passing on my knowledge,’ he says. ‘For me it’s all about that moment when I see the girls get inspired by the little things that I teach them.’

He says for him as a chef, food is life. ‘When you eat really good food it makes your soul happy and it brings everyone together,’ he says. ‘That’s why it’s important for children to learn how to cook when they’re young.’

 

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