Nikki Kavanagh, Alira Paff and Renee Truscott are on the frontline of a campaign to have us all cook and eat better and more cheaply.
Nikki Kavanagh, Alira Paff and Renee Truscott are on the frontline of a campaign to have us all cook and eat better and more cheaply. Renee Pilcher

Jamie's kitchen comes to town

SOMETHING is cooking at Lake Alford - and will be for the next 11 weeks.

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, a project designed to promote healthy affordable eating arrived in Gympie on Friday, to spread the word about low-cost, nutritious home cooking.

While it is not the first ministry of its kind in the history of the world - something about loaves and fishes comes to mind - it is certainly a new and original way of improving our diets and our lives.

The "ministry" is based on the celebrated TV chef's theories about why too many of us are unhealthy, with many of us too fat, and yet still malnourished.

The reason, he says, is that too many of us have lost the habits and skills needed to prepare fresh, nutritious and cheap meals in our own kitchens.

Jamie's ministry trucked into town on Friday with a mobile kitchen on a semi-trailer, now parked near the Bruce Hwy.

"Our first courses are booked out already, but the second round still has vacancies," enthusiastic Ministry of Food instructor and chef Alira Paff said on Friday.

The ministry is a joint project involving the Queensland Government and The Good Foundation, a charity funded by The Good Guys Discount Warehouse.

The van and its staff of three are helped by a fourth person, a volunteer, meaning the classes have eight people, using four sets of equipment.

Lessons begin at 9am and continue through the day for different classes, from Tuesday to Saturday.

"It's not a nutrition course or a complicated cooking class, it's more about getting back to basics," said nutritionist Renee Truscott.

"It's about learning to use fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch.

"A lot of people don't know how to do this anymore.

"And all the things we do are easy," she said.

Her colleague Nikki Kavanagh, a chef, also stressed the simplicity theme.

"We're in town to teach people to cook nutritious and practical meals.

"It's basic cooking skills, from 'How do you like your eggs?' to preparing one of Jamie's delicious roasts," she said.

Councillor Rae Gate, whose responsibilities include the potentially wide field of "social well being" was delighted to welcome Jamie's crew..

"Having Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food here is a great thing for Gympie and a great opportunity for people with time to do it."

Ms Kavanagh said students would learn to make stock from scratch, gravy from scratch as well as building good meals from those basics.

The course costs $50 ($25 concession) for five lessons of 90 minutes each.

Considering that the ingredients are provided and you get to take the meals home, makes it as close to something for nothing as any cooking student (or any hungry person) could wish for.

Inquiries can be made by phoning 5481 0743.

Gympie Times


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