Craig Wilson, the Kilted Chef, has gone back to school in a drive to support food education in Aberdeenshire. In partnership with Alford Primary School, Craig has launched the Kilted Kitchen Learning Project to inspire young people to share his passion for food.

The initiative includes a series of films aimed at nursery level to primary seven, exploring Craig’s journey to becoming a chef, what his job entails and how he became interested in food. Pupils also learn more about the north east’s rich larder, whilst developing a greater awareness of different foods, and gaining essential ‘life skills’ in food handling and cookery. The project is underway in Alford Primary School and will continue into the 2021/2022 session.

Craig said: “My mission is to ignite a passion for food amongst young people. Creating an interest in food early in life, is vital for developing healthy relationships with food and gaining basic cookery skills enables us to be independent and create good, nutritionally balanced meals which not only taste great, but are good for us too. It’s more important now than ever, that there is a focus on mental and physical health amongst young people, and food is a great place to start.”

Whilst the project explores provenance and sustainability, it will also look at themes such as food, family and feelings. This includes the creation of a ‘warm and fuzzy cookbook’. This will feature recipes shared by pupils, of their favourite foods they enjoy when they are looking for some comfort, or a dish that reminds them of a special time or place or something they would eat everyday if they could.

Pupils will also have the opportunity for live virtual sessions with Craig, where he will challenge pupils to find and share their ‘food heroes’. These are people who they think are advocates of great food, from their granny’s broth to the fish man who delivers fresh fish to their street, their favourite TV chef or someone doing amazing things with food on social media.

Craig continued: “The project will encourage young people to get involved in cooking at home but most importantly, I hope it will get families around the dinner table, enjoying good food and talking about their day. Food is something that brings people together and I’m excited to see what the pupils produce.”

Elaine McGowan, head teacher at Alford Primary School said: “The senior leadership team at Alford Primary has worked closely with Craig to create a project that is engaging and interesting for young people.

“As part of the curriculum, young people learn about the ‘World of Work’ and the Kilted Kitchen Learning Project will bring the food and drink sector to life. As a chef and ambassador for food and drink, we are delighted to work with Craig and tell his story, giving pupils a first-hand snapshot of what it is like working in the hospitality industry. We hope that it will inspire our young people and we may even have the next top chef in our school.”

Teachers will also play a part in the project as they will take part in a Masterchef style challenge, judged and filmed by school pupils, Elaine continues, “The Masterchef Challenge is something we are all really excited about. It will be a real test of our cooking and organisation skills and we hope that the judges will be a bit more lenient than John Torode and Gregg Wallace.”

Cllr Gillian Owen, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee added: “It is great to see this project coming together with such zest and enthusiasm which will be hugely inspirational for our young people. Partnership working with local businesses and communities brings many benefits for all and I look forward to seeing how this project develops in the future.”

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