The University of Edinburgh's Accommodation Services has launched a new cook school (Monday 31 March 2014) to encourage its students to ditch convenience meals in favour of preparing fresh, healthy dishes themselves. The classes have been well received by students eager to hone their culinary skills and learn more about food.

The initiative, which is already proving to be very popular, is part of the Accommodation Services' ongoing food strategy with a key focus on the importance and benefits of preparing healthy meals using fresh local produce. 

The classes are available for students in both catered and self-catered accommodation and focus on demonstrating how healthy alternatives to convenience and microwavable meals can easily be made from scratch with a little know-how. Each two-hour lesson also encompasses a variety of cooking abilities including knife skills, food hygiene and safety. One of the first dishes taught was the traditional student staple, spaghetti bolognaise and, at the end of each class, students get the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labour. 

Ian Macaulay, Assistant Director (Catering), commented:

"The interest in the Cook School from the University's students has been phenomenal. It's great to be able to provide students with the opportunity to learn from our professional university chefs. There is a definite need for cookery classes in universities, not only for students with no experience in cooking from scratch, but also for those who feel that their skills in the kitchen need to be refreshed.   It's also a great confidence booster for students making the transition from catered to self-catered accommodation." 

"While ready-made meals will always be a popular choice among students, we hope the Cook School will be a step towards changing behaviours and demonstrating that cooking with fresh ingredients can be much more cost effective, more healthy - and fun!"

As classes progress, Accommodation Services plans to introduce more complex recipes and advanced courses.

Each class can hold a maximum of 12 students, working in four groups of three, and lessons costs £10 each.