Dec 3 2012 By Michael Russell
Fiona Hamilton-Fairley, founder of the Kid's Cookery School in Acton
A CHARITABLE chef is on a crusade to help children to eat healthily by getting them to fall in love with cooking.
Fiona Hamilton-Fairley founded The Kids’ Cookery School in Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, 13 years ago.
It gives children who are disabled, poor, or disadvantaged in other ways, the skills to create healthy, tasty dishes they can cook at home with their families.
Ms Hamilton-Fairley, a professional caterer, came up with the idea after realising her son, who is severely dyslexic and has Asperger’s syndrome, was not going to get cookery classes when he went to primary school.
She decided to teach him and his friends. Before long she had as many as 300 children asking for lessons during the holidays.
The 49-year-old, of Whitehall Gardens, said: “I was shocked to find out the three Rs were more important than the basic skills he needed to survive in life.
“I want to get children back in the kitchen cooking food from scratch. If you don’t feed your child good, fresh food they can’t concentrate and achieve their maximum.
“I looked around at community centres, secondary schools, anywhere with free space but found there weren’t any with kitchen facilities or that would provide decent access for children with wheelchairs or other needs. So I found an empty office. It was just a shell so I could be very creative.”
As well as Ms Hamilton-Fairley the school has one other full-time staff member and three freelance cooks teaching children as young as three years old.
A van can bring a kitchen, cookery teachers and food to schools and other venues.
Since the charity opened it has taught 32,000 children, with demand outstripping supply.
Ms Hamilton-Fairley said: “These are skills which, 20 years ago children would’ve learned from their parents, but we have two generations of parents who don’t cook anymore.
“It’s about families sitting around the table again and children being able to access the curriculum because they’ve had breakfast.”
n Visit www.kidscookeryschool.co.uk or call 020 8992 8882 to find out more.