An Afternoon with Project Chef

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I recently spent an afternoon with a wonderful group of 6 and 7 year olds at McBride Annex Elementary School and the Project Chef program.

The Project CHEF program was created by teacher and chef, Barb Finley. An educator (B.Ed., M.Ed.) for over twenty-five years, Barb has taught in Langley & Vancouver School Districts, UBC Faculty of Education, Dubrulle Culinary Institute and the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. Through her work, her mission is to reconnect children with the food they eat and to help children discover the process and pleasure in cooking and sharing food together.

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Chef/Program Director, Barb Finlay

Chef/Program Director, Barb Finlay

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It was pizza day when I visited, and they were teaching the kids how to make pizza using locally grown vegetables.  They also featured the locally produced kid chefs run, Kids can Cook Gourmet Tomato Sauce and made their own wheat dough for the crust.

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Project Chef utilizes the Experiential learning method to teach the kids, it is one of the most powerful ways to learn and studies have shown that children who have had a hands-on opportunity to explore and prepare new and nutritious foods will be more likely to eat healthy foods. Hands- on cooking programs have been proven to influence children and help them develop the skills to encourage healthy eating throughout their lives, improve their diets and prevent obesity.

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Each child (me included) received a handout that illustrated each task visually as well as in written form to guide them into making their pizzas. For the kids who may still be learning how to read, the visuals were ideal.

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Presently they work with a small amount of schools in Vancouver, they are hoping in the not to distant future to be able to duplicate their program to offer it concurrently to more schools in and around the city.

The program is non-profit and self funded through donations and if you or any of your friends who know of a company who may want to support this amazing program financially then you should reach out to Barb Finlay at Project Chef.

This was an incredible opportunity to see our effective the Project Chef program is and the smiles on the kids faces when they were eating their pizzas.

By: Richard Wolak