Sunday Lunch campaign: 'Teach kids to cook at school and they'll be set up for life'

Britain's hottest young celebrity chef lends his support to our campaign
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The Independent Online

Many teenagerswould consider it something to be avoided at all costs, but 16-year-old Sam Stern is calling for compulsory cookery lessons in schools.

Sam is not your average teenager. He is the author of two successful cookery books, and has a publishing deal to produce two more next year.

He spent his summer touring America, where he was popular with audiences on prime-time TV shows, and he is now in talks about presenting his own programme in Britain. He has been praised by Jamie Oliver and is rapidly becoming Britain's latest and youngest celebrity chef.

Now Sam, who is juggling his career with A-levels, has called for cookery lessons to become part of the National Curriculum.

"Why can't we learn to cook properly in schools?" asks Sam, after preparing a traditional roast at his parent's 18th-century home near York. "It would set kids up for life, improve general health, and save a fortune for the NHS in terms of dealing with long-term heart disease and obesity. Kids should start learning about food as early as possible."

Sam, nicknamed "The Little Chef" by some parts of the media ("I hate that, I'm nearly six foot in my socks") said: "At nursery level you could mix established subjects with simple cooking. Like biscuits and maths, for instance, where children could learn about numbers and measurements.

"Later, you could blend cooking with anything really. It would work well with French, for example, or even history... kids really get involved and it's fun because they get something nice to eat at the end of the lesson."

Sam, whose second book, Real Food, Real Fast, is out this month, is the latest celebrity to back the IoS's Sunday lunch campaign.

"Sunday lunch is a great chance to get the whole family involved in the kitchen, right down to the youngest children." He is the youngest of five children and began cooking with his mother at the age of three. "It brings family and friends together; Sunday lunch is damn good."

Britons increasingly fail to share his view. Asurvey by internet company Lycos found 60 per cent of us do not bother with a weekly family Sunday lunch any more.

Sam says the key to saving the tradition lies with the young, and the sooner it is revived the better. "You can put extra years on your life if you eat well. Eating fast food is almost like smoking."

The Recipe

Yorkshire Pudding

I use a sloped-side enamel dish 25cm x 18cm x 6cm. Start your pudding an hour before you want to eat it.

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

300ml milk

large pinch salt

good few grindings black pepper

225g plain white flour

hot beef dripping or olive oil

Method:

1 Heat oven to 230C/gas mark 8.

2 Crack the eggs into a large bowl with the milk, salt and pepper. Whisk and leave for 25 mins.

3 Drizzle a little hot dripping from the roast or oil into the dish. Put dish into the oven to heat up.

4 Sift the flour into the milk/egg mixture and whisk. Tip the batter into a jug to make it easier to pour into the hot dish.

5 Cook without opening the oven door for about 20 mins, until pudding is golden and well-risen.

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