YOUNGSTERS from South Tyneside have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Budding chef James Tomlin, from Hebburn, scooped a £200 prize after taking part in a national cooking competition.
The 17-month-old assisted his dad David, 36, and was chosen from thousands of young cooks who took part in the Children’s Food Trust’s BIG Cookathon event, which is designed to get families cooking and eating together at home.
As well as having fun cooking the official BIG Cookathon recipe, Speedy Biryani, David said James was learning important skills to last a lifetime.
He said: “We had fun cooking together. We produced a healthy, homemade meal. I was brought up having family meals at the dining table and that’s important to me.
“Children should, whenever possible, be involved in preparing and cooking meals. It teaches them valuable skills and makes them more open to new tastes and flavours.
Children should, whenever possible, be involved in preparing and cooking meals. This teaches them valuable skills and makes them more open to new taste and flavour experiences.David Tomlin
Brother and sister Brittany Moy, 11, and Keanu, seven, from South Shields, also won a £200 prize after cooking the dish with their mum, Helen.
The 36-year-old said: “I tried out the recipe at a cooking session for parents which gave me the confidence to try it at home.
“My two younger children helped with the cooking. Everyone loved it. It is definitely a recipe we will use again and the kids are keen to cook some more.”
The Children’s Food Trust’s annual BIG Cookathon aims to get as many people as possible cooking a healthy dish together on the same day.
Now in its seventh year, it is the biggest mass cooking event in the country.
This year’s competition is supported by Ben’s Beginners, which aims to get more children cooking with their families, and the Big Lottery Fund.
Linda Cregan, chief executive officer at the charity, said: “Cooking and eating together are such powerful ways to bring communities and families together, and that’s what the BIG Cookathon is all about. We’re so thrilled that James, Brittany and Keanu and their families took part.
“We’ve already helped three million people learn to cook through our cookery programme.
“Most of our club members use their new cooking skills at home, and more than half tell us they now eat more healthily – which shows that learning to cook really can make a big difference to how we eat.”
Justine Hare, of Uncle Ben’s, a partner of the BIG Cookathon, added: “We want to help get kids and families cooking together and create a life-long healthy relationship with food which makes our partnership with the Children’s Food Trust BIG Cookathon a natural fit.
“Evidence shows that kids are more likely to eat a meal when they help prepare it and that when families eat together, they are more likely to eat healthier foods.
“Ben’s Beginners and the Children’s Food Trust working together will help to ensure that all of our mutual objectives are achieved.”
To find out more about the Children’s Food Trust’s BIG Cookathon go to letsgetcookingathome.org.uk/bigcookathon