Man with a Pan is an award-winning cookery course, delivered by the Community Chef. This five session course provides an opportunity for men to learn to cook, be creative, meet new people, build self-confidence and eat delicious food.
The ‘students’ learn how to prepare delicious, stress-free, affordable and healthy meals in a fun and supportive environment. The men share a meal and can take extra meals home.
Cares Support West Sussex are supporting a trial run of this cookery course in West Sussex. Perhaps hearing the words of one male carer who attended this course will encourage you to sign up, become a master chef and impress everyone at home with your new and improved culinary skills.
Why did you like the course and how did it benefit you?
Well, the course has two distinct and intertwined aspects – one is obviously about cooking skills (more about that in a minute) but the other is the social aspect. Apart from the first week where we engaged in the usual round the table introductions, each week began with a general welcome and a discussion about how we got on putting into practice what we learned in the previous week – and giving advice to each other from our own experience and mistakes.
Bit of banter
The topics of conversation were wide ranging with a healthy dose of good-natured banter. Perhaps contrary to expectations there was only limited chat about our own problems or issues. For some of us, myself included, a change in life circumstances means that opportunities to engage socially have become more limited and the risk of a more insular existence. There is also the added risk of becoming set in our ways and this course was helpful in reducing that threat.
So, after the morning discourse it was straight into the kitchen and the cooking part. Afterwards, we got to ‘eat our own dog food’ so to speak (i.e. what we have just cooked) as we gathered back around the table to continue our conversations.
Our hosts Robin and Alex were very patient with us, extremely knowledgeable and good fun – they certainly made the course what it was – an enjoyable learning experience.
Learning knife skills
It was surprising over the five sessions the range of different things we tried. Silly as it may sound, I was happy on the first session that we started with some basic knife skills and how to chop an onion. It is not that I couldn’t chop an onion or do some simple cooking but it was great to know how to do things effectively. I won’t go into all of the recipes, but above all else the course gave me a lot more confidence in trying out new things and not being afraid to experiment a bit and make mistakes on the way.
I can now make homemade bread!
Robin has made a bit of a rod for my back too after teaching us how to make a loaf from scratch – my wife now only likes home cooked bread and this is something I do at least every week. Other things I can happily do are pan-fried sea bass, homemade soup, omelettes, roast dinners, curries and various dips and sauces – still trying to get my hummus recipe to my liking though. I would say that not only has the course improved my kitchen skills, but that I now actually enjoy cooking most of the time – especially when it turns out not too shabby.