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Expanding your little chef's repertoire

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and father of George, 5, Johnnie, 2, and Dory, 1, explains why his ‘Cook 5’ meal crusade for children is so important


Posted: 12 April 2013
by Amanda Pauley

After playing a key role in making cookery compulsory on the curriculum again, the founders of healthy fast food chain Leon have prepared a try-this-at-home recipe plan called Cook 5 in bid to turn rookie chefs into aspiring gastronomes.

“There’s a lack of a cooking culture in this country, so we’re aiming to bring it into every kitchen by encouraging children to learn how to cook five savoury meals,” explains Leon co-owner, chef and father-of-three, Henry Dimbleby.

Participants simply sign up to the scheme at www.cook5.co.uk to access five age-appropriate recipes to get stuck into. On the menu for children aged up to eight are hearty staple dishes including perfect scrambled eggs, filled jacket potatoes and penne with tomato sauce.

Each child who completes the challenge and uploads images of the resulting five meals they have made will receive a certificate and a Little Leon eBook with more dishes to try their hand at.

The impetus for Cook 5 came when Henry and his business partner John Vincent worked with the government on its food education policy and discovered that an astounding 60 per cent of pupils leave school unable to make a basic meal. “My mother, Josceline, was a cookery writer, so there was always amazing food at home. As a youth I learned to eat lots of unusual things long before my peers did, so when I got to the age where I could teach myself to cook, I did,” he says.

And Henry hopes that as well as equipping the nation’s children with the skills required to whip up a nutritious and delicious dinner, with fresh ingredients from scratch, he has imbued his own children – George, five, Johnnie, two, and Dory, one – with a love of food, too. “They are quite young so I cook with them sitting by me and get them to do a bit of chopping, but we always eat together as a family,” says Henry. 

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