Once upon a time there was a boy called Max. Max was a fussy eater whose diet was limited to the same small selection of foods. He simply refused to try anything new. But, as with all good fairy tales, this story has a happy ending.
Max Alatalo is now in Grade 4 at Victory Lutheran College and, while once upon a time he may have been a reluctant food explorer, after just one year of kitchen and garden classes, he has become an adventurous eater who doesn’t just try out new tastes but also cooks for his family at home.
For the Alatalos the kitchen garden program is a family affair. Max’s mother, Anni, is a regular volunteer at the kitchen classes Max and his cousins attend. Over the past twelve months the Alatalos have brought the kitchen garden program values of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal, delicious food from beyond the school gate and into their home.
Max and his cousins are now enthusiastic home chefs. They even teamed up together to make a dish for Christmas dinner, expertly preparing without any adult assistance a selection of delicious desserts that were beautifully presented in glass dishes. According to Anni the boys beamed with pride at the end result.
For Christmas, Max was overjoyed to receive his own copy of Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking with Kids and has taken to tagging the recipes he plans to prepare. Anni estimates that Max has already more than twenty tags adorning the pages.
Even Max’s little brother, a Grade 2 student who eagerly awaits starting kitchen classes next year, was busy over the summer preparing cooling ginger drinks for the neighbourhood, and experimenting with ingredients to create different flavours.
For Max’s first kitchen class in 2016, Sonia Hetherington, the school’s Kitchen Specialist, taught the students the basics of pasta making. The class was a huge success, inspiring Max yet again to try his new skills at home. This time he dusted off his grandmother’s old pasta maker and dragged his father, an infrequent cook, to join him the kitchen. The results – just delicious!
As well as a warm and busy kitchen, the Atalatos also have a thriving veggie patch. Max’s experience with the program has turned his thumb green and he frequently wanders into the garden to see what produce is ready for harvest. There are even plans to build more beds as the family’s energy and enthusiasm grows!
Of course it’s not just about delicious desserts and bountiful harvests – Max has also brought home the endless learning opportunities that grow from the kitchen and garden. Anni, reports that Max’s numeracy skills are constantly in development as he learns how to deal with the complex measurements required to follow recipes.
To Max: the whole Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation team congratulate you for your willingness to try new things – from tasting new vegetables to learning new kitchen techniques.
To Sonia and Anni, the Alatalo family and the wider school community, the Foundation sends our warmest gratitude for your generosity and support towards Max and all the students at Victory Lutheran College. Truly amazing things happen when the kitchen garden program bursts beyond the boundaries of the school yard.
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