New year, new start? If you’re like me and every January you swear to be a little bit healthier and a little bit slimmer, then no doubt you are either watching the likes of Tom Kerridge, or Jamie Oliver, or a whole host of other chefs on TV to get some ideas. Or you maybe flicking through your hoards of cookbooks (that only come out once a year), for some inspiration. Then, again like me, you’re sat thinking, but I don’t have time to cook these meals, and I wish hubby could help, oh and then, the final straw that will lead you back to pie and mash – ‘the kids won’t eat that’!!

So what do you do? Where do you start, and how can you get everyone on board?

Make it fun!

Let me take you back. Christmas 2017, and I was looking for something different for my hubby for an unusual Christmas present. Something he wouldn’t think to buy himself, and would be a fun experience. I’d often grumbled about being the only one who cooks in the evening, and hinted how nice it would be to get home from work and someone else had cooked the dinner. However, I’d always get the same answer, ‘but you’re a better cook than me, and I don’t know what I’m doing’!

So that was when the idea sprung to mind…. cooking lessons! I teamed up with a friend of mine, who’s other half needed a little bit of a helping hand too and we had a look around. Knowing the boys, and that cooking classes with a room full of women would not be their thing, we had a look to see if there was a private lesson they could take together. And that’s when we stumbled upon Chef No 40! Based in Henley, and offering private lessons for a reasonable price, I got in touch. I had a lovely email back from Claire saying that Robbie (the Chef) would love to put together a couple of dishes together for the boys to cook. After agreeing that we wanted them to learn how to cook everyday healthy meals, Robbie came back to us with some menu suggestions that seemed perfect.

We booked them 4 lessons, to commence shortly after Christmas. Christmas came and went, and the boys were all set for lesson number 1! Robbie arrived at the house with a box full of beautiful fresh ingredients, 2 brand new aprons for the boys to wear, and a couple of personalised menu’s for them to takeaway afterwards. My friend and I sat and chatted in the lounge whilst the boys got to work, cooking up a feast in the kitchen! They loved every minute of it! 3 hours later, Robbie was on his way home and we sat down to eat the wonderful dinner the boys had cooked! I was impressed. Another 3 lessons later and they had really got into the swing of it! And I’d even had dinner cooked for me a couple of times at home! Robbie was such a great chef and brought a lot of fun to the evening as well as new skills for the boys to learn.

Fast forward to now! Robbie and Mark have now become firm friends and have even been seen out on the golf course together. As Mark had enjoyed it so much, he recently had two mates to stay, whilst I was away with the girls for the weekend. As he had Sienna home with him, they couldn’t go far, so they asked Robbie to head over for the evening and get them all involved in cooking their feast for the evening. 

They picked a menu, and again Robbie arrived packed sky high with beautiful fresh ingredients. Later that evening whilst I was dancing the night away with my girlfriends, I received a text from hubby, with pictures of my 4-year-old daughter stood at the hob, merrily stirring the dinner, and by all accounts having an absolute blast cooking with daddy and his friends. 

Getting the kids involved….

Robbie, who is a dad to a young daughter himself, was more than happy for Sienna to get involved, and (although she went to bed later than she should have done) it seems that she stole the show that evening, and happily tucked into to dinner with daddy and the boys!

When I returned home later the following day, Sienna was full of excitement and tales of her cooking with the ‘grown-ups’ and can she do it again please mummy. We got back in touch with Robbie the following week and asked if he would be interested in doing a little evening course for Sienna, to get her excited about food and cooking, and hopefully help her eat more than fish fingers, chips and beans on a daily basis.

Robbie agreed with enthusiasm, and a few weeks later, helped Sienna to cook a wonderful homemade pasta dish. She had a whale of a time. Admittedly the kitchen looked like it had been turned in a bakery with the flour floating around the room, but she loved it, and munched her way through the dinner she had helped make.

A few weeks later, and we did it all over again. This time Robbie brought his little girl along too, and the girls made fresh pizza. Again they had an absolute blast! 

Getting kids excited about cooking and using fresh healthy ingredients is such a wonderful way to get them into food and have a varied diet. Especially if they are involved in the process themselves. And we honestly couldn’t recommend Robbie (Chef No 40) enough. He’s patient, fun, and a top chef. So if you’re looking to kick start your new year, and want to get the whole family involved in cooking beautiful fresh menu’s that work for you, in the comfort of your own home, then Robbie is your man!