Welcome to The Bondi Cook

Hello and welcome!

Here you’ll find all the recipes I used in my job cooking with the children in the Kitchen Garden Program at Bondi Public School in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Bondi Public School is the Demonstration School in Sydney for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. We were lucky to have such a important program at our school, included as part of the curriculum for children in Years 3 to 6, with the younger students visiting us from time to time throughout the year.

Our school was big enough to have its own large Kitchen Garden that supplies pretty much most of the vegetables for our cooking lessons (grown, tended to and harvested by the students too!), so our menus were predominantly vegetarian although not exclusively so. We catered for a number of children at the school with dietary needs such as Coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and anaphylaxis to various ingredients, so I always did my best to look after those particular kids and make sure they were included but most importantly were not in any danger with foods that they ate or touched.

With conflicting advice on diet and food appearing every week in the newspapers, and fast food company donations from government agencies to sports teams, it’s sometimes hard to work out what’s best and healthiest – and most convenient – to give your children. In this program we taught children the value of seasonal, local and (ideally) as chemical-free as possible, and most importantly how to prepare it and cook it themselves. This empowered the children in making choices for themselves and also built confidence in meal preparation, and crucially in tasting -and enjoying – the foods that they create.

We were incredibly lucky to have the patronage of Wholefoods House in Woollahra who donated a weekly shopping trolley worth of goods to our program. It is due to Wholefoods House that we were able to use premium organic ingredients in our cooking, such as Demeter flours and Nolan’s Road chickpeas and olive oil, for example, and safe handwashing liquid and dishwashing detergents. We were very grateful for this ongoing donation, that lasted seven years. We were also very humbled by the support of Bondi parents, grandparents and community members who helped supervise and encouraged the children in each class. Anyone who volunteered for a Kitchen Garden class realised that the show cannot go on without any help! So thank you.

School holiday programs: with the help of my friends Carolyn from nutrikids.com.au and Mish, the Bondi SAKGP gardener, I ran programs every holiday for children aged 8 to 12 from The Cottage at Bondi PS. We got the kids doing everything themselves, echoing all the vital ideals of the SAKGP, from harvesting the produce from our garden beds, to prepping and chopping, to cooking, cleaning up and, most importantly eating the beautiful vegetable dishes they created!

l also used to run evening and weekend workshops in Bondi for adults wanting to brush up on their cooking skills, or wanting to get back to basics: pasta-making, jam-making, marmalades, olives and other preserves.  I also used to run wine evenings too: Introduction to Wine courses, new season tastings, food matching and advanced classes, it was all going on in the Cottage!

I hope you enjoy it all,

Cheers! Melissa

You can also follow me on Instagram @thebondicook


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