A group of amateur cooks who are seeking asylum in Australia have acquired home cooking skills and experience thanks to a social enterprise established by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
The seven cooking enthusiasts recently completed a course at Jamie’s Ministry of Food Wetherill Park, where they had access to practical kitchen hints and tips and nutritional education that will empower them to make better eating decisions.
Among the dishes prepared over the seven-week course were healthy, delicious main meals and sides using fresh seasonal produce.
Participants also learned about knife handling skills, kitchen hygiene and safety, the value of eating food that is in season, and creating meals from scratch.
The class was arranged by Settlement Services International’s Community Engagement team, which delivers a range of events and activities that allow SSI clients to learn new skills and develop community connections.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said it was particularly important for people who are seeking asylum to have the opportunity to meet new people in a welcoming environment.
“Social inclusion plays a large part in a person’s ability to adapt to life in Australia, which is so important to people who are waiting for their application for refugee status to be assessed,” she said.
“It helps to build a sense of belonging and community connectedness, which has a range of benefits on mental health and wellbeing.
“One of the particularly encouraging aspects of the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program was the level of comradery that was developed among the participants. It was great to see people from such diverse backgrounds come together to bond over their shared enjoyment of cooking.”
One of the participants, Atoosa, enjoyed learning new skills and was particularly pleased to receive her certificate of completion, which she will include in her portfolio to support her job search.
“One of my favourite things was learning about other cultures and their foods,” she added.
Another participant, Selvakumar, will use his new skills at an upcoming Community Kitchen, where he will lead a team of volunteers to create a meal in celebration of Tamil New Year.
Classes at Jamie’s Ministry of Food aim to equip people with the skills and knowledge to cook for themselves, while also inspiring and empowering them to change the way they eat and think about food.