CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has rustled up a pioneering home cooking course for culinary-challenged students in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
In a Scottish first, West Lothian College (WLC) is set to launch a new programme of Jamie Oliver Home Cooking Skills courses to teach participants how to prepare nutritious and affordable meals in their own kitchens.
Oliver – well known for his national push to promote healthy dinners in schools – said the classes would bring a “real food, for life” ethos to homes across the Capital.
He said: “I see this Home Cooking Skills course as so much more than a qualification – it’s a way of sharing a critical life skill with as many people as possible.
“This is a chance to arm students with sensible, practical knowledge they can take into the world and actually use.”
WLC bosses said the new BTEC offering in home cooking was part of a range of Saturday courses, lasting between 12 and 18 weeks, which would benefit people who want to learn how to cook but cannot commit to full-time study.
The course launch comes as the outspoken Essex-born chef fends off criticism for his recent comments on working class families, who he said complained of poverty yet lived on expensive junk food and could afford wide-screen televisions.
“Whether they’re having a party, cooking for mates, feeding their future children or making lunch, they’ll be fending for themselves, saving money and using these skills every day for the rest of their lives,” he said of those who enrol for the classes in West Lothian.
“This is a new area for me and I can’t wait to hear feedback from students and lecturers.
“I want this to be the best cooking course available, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be light years ahead of everything else.”
Senior figures in the Capital’s restaurant trade welcomed the launch and said a greater appreciation of good food among the general population would help business.
Malcolm Duck, chair of the Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association, said: “If he’s trying to help people create good food, all power to his elbow.
“The more people you have who cook at home, the more people you have who really understand food. They understand raw ingredients.
“They learn to cook real dishes and they learn to understand restaurants which produce real dishes.
“And if people cook at home and really understand what they’re cooking, that should have a positive impact on the restaurant industry.”
West Lothian College principal Mhairi Laughlin said: “We are delighted to be the first Scottish college to offer these Jamie Oliver courses and are positive they will prove popular with our students.”
Naked Chef’s £150m fortune
FROM humble beginnings at Westminster Catering College as a 16-year-old, Jamie Oliver has built up an international food and restaurant empire.
His net worth is currently estimated at £150 million.
As a TV personality he is best known for his appearances on BBC2’s The Naked Chef, which introduced viewers to his “Mockney” dialect.
The Jamie’s Italian chain has grown rapidly and now has 35 restaurants in major UK towns and cities.