An inquiry Into Home Cooking for Students
Ved V. (Grade 10)
When you think about wholesome, home-cooked meals, you don't typically think of them being served up by a 16-year-old. For teenagers, the common belief is this: if it's not instant, canned, frozen, or ready in under three-steps, then it's beyond the realm of their culinary competence. You can imagine people's surprise, then, when they happened upon the personal project of Grade 10 Student Ved V., who was not only cooking up delicious and fresh foods from scratch, but empowering his peers to do the same.
On the day of the showcase, Ved's personal project was met with incredulity. "People were definitely surprised," Ved laughs; "I think they expected me to just make instant noodles or boil water."
That wasn't the case though. In fact, Ved has been cooking for as long as he can remember—his earliest memories are in Grade 3—and his days of just boiling water are long behind him. He started small and never stopped. "I was never told to cook. I just liked it," Ved explains. He attributes his passion for cooking to a single spark, the thing that clicked and made him want to keep learning. For Ved, it was hearing his mom tell him something he made tasted good.
When it came to deciding his question of inquiry for the project, he knew he had better pick something he was passionate about. As a self-admitted procrastinator, it was all-the-more-important. Ved's passion for cooking, he decided, would inspire him throughout the year-long project, which would take hours and hours of planning, researching, writing, editing, designing, and presenting.
His inquiry question, how can I help students to be self-sufficient with home cooked meals? was answered through a series of videos. Ved decided to create a cooking channel on YouTube, where he'd create recipes in easy to follow, step-by-step lessons. The videos were all done in progression, assuming his friends would be starting off where he had years ago. The videos started off teaching basic skills—like how to finely chop an onion—and cooking basic meals—like quesadillas— and would progress in skill and complexity from there: quesadillas would advance to burritos, and burritos to enchiladas, for example.
Every recipe was meant to be realistic. In fact, Ved chose his recipes with the students at Meadowridge in mind: students who are busy, and have a quick 30-minute window in between school and after-school activities.
After designing his recipe plan, the next step was to film and edit the videos. Just like the recipes, even the videos were tailored to reach his audience—his peers. Ved wanted to create videos that his friends would actually want to watch so they would actually get cooking. So he kept the videos casual and fun; he was the same on-screen as he was off, and took notes from his favourite teachers. While planning, Ved kept in mind a statement he heard before, one which has proven itself time and time again: one can only learn by doing, not watching. "You won't learn a Math or Science concept if you just stare at a white board. You actually have to do it. It's the same with cooking," Ved affirms.
After designing his recipe plan, the next step was to film and edit the videos. Just like the recipes, even the videos were tailored to reach his audience—his peers. Ved wanted to create videos that his friends would actually want to watch so they would actually get cooking.
On the day of the showcase, Ved set up his booth and watched as his friends and teachers approached him in disbelief. They were shocked not only that he was cooking, but that he took on the role of teacher in a series of 11 videos. Also, he brought samples to try—samples which were, surprisingly to some, decidedly delicious. "One of my teachers told me I should rename my garlic bread to Ved Bread," he laughs, "I changed the definition of garlic bread." In fact, after an entire afternoon of fielding inquiries and sharing his experience with a whole gym-full of people, his favourite question was "can I try some food?".
With his personal project now handed in, Ved will continue to cook. He enjoys it, and he recognizes the benefits it has on all areas of his life... manual dexterity, motor skills, sensory-development, and sense of timing, to name a few. He will also continue to preach home-cooking to his friends:
In fact, after an entire afternoon of fielding inquiries and sharing his experience with a whole gym-full of people, his favourite question was "can I try some food?".
"When you cook something from scratch, you know exactly what is going onto your plate and what and where everything is from... you are given the ability to be able to pronounce the ingredients without needing any knowledge in advanced IB Chemistry."