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The Natural Cook Company working with Challengers

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Sophie from The Natural Cook Company, who regularly runs sensory cooking activities for Challengers, discusses below the importance of these sessions and the enjoyment each and every child gets out of them.

What is sensory cooking?

Sensory cookery is a unique way to explore food and drink through all of the senses! Whether it is sight, touch, taste, smell, texture or temperature, it is an experience that is open to all, and a great way to stimulate every child.

For those that can get hands on, the fantastic touch stimulation of running your hand through a bowl of dry lentils, feeling them run over your skin. For those that are visually impaired hearing the rain like sound as they tinkle against the side of the bowl, and for those who are not keen on textures to see the patterns of them dropping through the air splashing back into the bowl. All of that even before the cooking starts.

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Our workshops at Challengers

The children who attend Challengers sensory cookery sessions are provided with a plethora of opportunities to explore the world through cookery. Some children are entirely absorbed by the activity, enjoying the recipes provided by The Natural Cook Company, from start to finish. Practicing listening skills as the recipe is demonstrated, developing literacy as they read through the method on each recipe sheet, encouraging mathematics skills in weighing and measuring, not to mention the fine and gross motor skills used in chopping, snipping, mixing and pouring.

For those who are less able, being able to feel the textures of different ingredients from a ‘nobbly’ potato to a ‘smooth’ aubergine, or being gently stroked on the back of the hand by a bit of parsley, the delight on their faces is clear.

Smelling is a huge part of the experience and each child is given the opportunity to smell each ingredient. Ingredients like lemon, ginger, cucumber, red pepper, cardamom, spring onion all have a unique and stimulating smell, particularly if it has not occurred to you previously to smell ingredients as you prepare them. Even for those who cannot eat, smelling is an incredibly stimulating activity to be involved in.

Of course we must not forget the joy of taste! Seeing the wide eyes of a child discovering that they like crunchy sweet fresh peppers when they previously thought they didn’t, is just wonderful.

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Finally, the pride and satisfaction displayed by each child when they see their finished dish is entirely heart warming. They made it! They did it! The boost in self confidence is clear for all to see. Sensory cookery really is a wonderful, exploratory and exhilarating activity for all! Even the parents get a thrill when watching their child tuck into food they really didn’t think they would embrace, it’s all part of the great experience.

Our ‘Cook It!’ competition

As well as lots of future sensory cookery sessions The Natural Cook Company in partnership with SYMESkitchen will be hosting a fantastic cookery competition ‘Cook it!’ for anyone over 18 years of age, of which all of the proceeds will be given to Challengers. The competition will take place from February to March 2019, in their bespoke cookery studio on the outskirts of Alton. The studio is equipped with workstations and facilities to enable them to run cookery classes for people of all ages and abilities. For more information visit the Cook It! competition website.

To find out more about what our schemes get up to, visit our What We Do section.

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