Lewis Jones, ACT’s Catering Tutor/ Curriculum Co-ordinator, has been keeping his online cookery classes fresh and engaging, by encouraging learners to cook alongside him as part of a series of live-streamed cooking tutorials. As well as learning invaluable culinary skills, learners are discovering how to prepare nutritious and easy to cook meals which the whole family can enjoy!
Although ACT have been ahead of the curve and offering online blended learning for some time, the pandemic has forced many of us to adapt overnight to a totally new way of working. While many learners thrive learning remotely, for some of our younger Traineeship learners it can be a challenge to engage. As a result, our delivery staff are constantly coming up with new innovative and exciting ways to get our learners onboard and eager to log on.
Lewis’ approach to engaging learners includes creating tasty treats and nutritious meals for them to cook alongside him via video link. The tutorials ensure that learners are able to learn a valuable lifelong skill in an active fun way.
Lewis commented, “The learners really enjoy the relaxed approach to the live sessions. Recently we explored cooking in the context of ‘Fire & Smoke’. The drama we created, from lighting the fire, through to cooking was always going to be engaging as who doesn’t enjoy a primitive style BBQ? Other live cooking sessions like exploring seafood and bread making have really helped add variety to the sessions too.
We also did a session on how to prepare Neapolitan pizza from scratch. We looked at the history behind pizza – ’who knew a margarita was named after the Queen of Italy?’- and through some great YouTube videos and online resources met the producers of the classic toppings. These include buffalo mozzarella and the Pièce de résistance of a good Neapolitan pizza, San Marzano tomatoes, grown at the footsteps of Mount Vesuvius. Seeing how excited the learners were to then start making their pizza from scratch for their dinner made it all worth it.”
Even for the curriculum learning elements of his workshops, Lewis strives to provide a variety of learning opportunities. One popular class topic was ‘sushi’, which saw Lewis and the learners explore all there is to know about the subject. They took online tours of busy Japanese markets where the produce is sourced, learnt what it takes to be a sushi master, as well as the knives and tools used and the sustainability behind the fish.
Lewis commented, “What was great was that the sushi topic took us on interesting tangents where we ended up looking at religion and geography. It allowed myself and the learners to explore sushi through many different avenues.”
Keen to ensure learners are not just glued to a screen all day in live lessons, Lewis has also provided focused delivery where learners explore topics beyond catering as well as develop new skills. Some of this learning has included: upcycling rubbish at home into useful objects,
Welsh photography challenges, healthy eating challenges combined with exercise and Black Lives Matter education. However, like everyone, the pandemic has also presented challenges for Lewis but even these have resulted in some unexpected positive results!
“Working with two young children under three has been a challenge! Especially when my son Otto forces his way into a session. Interestingly, it actually sparks the other learners to engage more – the wonders of children! Otto’s presence puts them at ease and this really helps in the virtual classroom.”
Reflecting on the past year and what it has taught him, Lewis’ tip to other colleagues out there delivering on the front line is, “Never take for granted a practical skill that can in turn be taught and passed on in live delivery – however strange it may seem!”
If you, or someone you know shares Lewis’s passion and enthusiasm for cooking, then our Hospitality and Catering Traineeship could be the perfect start to a catering career!