How WA's 'deadly' young chefs are cooking up healthy eating habits


An innovative cooking and nutrition class teaching young people how to cook up a storm while incorporating bush tucker and community collaboration is transforming the Peel (Bindjareb) region.

The Deadly Koolinga Chefs Program, a collaborative food literacy project between Ngangk Yira Institute for Change and the School of Nursing, has received funding to continue cooking classes in Peel schools.

Led by Associate Professor Caroline Nilson, the program’s classes focus on kitchen safety, meal planning and budgeting, cooking and food storage – and includes Traditional Bush Foods.

In December of 2023, ARYZTA International Bakery announced its purchase of land in the Peel Business Park in the Shire of Murray. Now, the company has signed an agreement with Murdoch University’s Food Futures Institute and an agreement to continue funding the Deadly Koolinga Chefs Program.

Last week, the program held a cooking class at Mandurah Primary School, where the students showed their skills to ARYZTA’s Regional Managing Director Sean Masterson, and Manager Research Engagement - Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia and Peel Development Commission Chair, Professor David Doepel.

Associate Professor Nilson facilitated the cooking and nutrition class, and instructed the children to make a healthy spaghetti bolognaise using a recipe from the LiveLighter campaign.

"To feel the children’s energy and excitement as the class begins is wonderful, and then to see them become totally engaged in the food preparation and cooking is inspiring,” Assoc. Prof. Nilson said.

The children’s sense of joy and pride to be taking home the meal they prepared from scratch to share with their family is a gift in itself.”

She added that the team embedded STEM skills into the classes, and that it was a pleasure to see the children realise how weights, measurements and volumes are life skills.

“In the words of one child, ‘now I see why I need to know what grams are... it’s so I can read a recipe’.”

Mandurah Primary School principal Natasha Upcott said the funding would help to further enrich the learning experience of her students.

“We are so excited about the future of the Deadly Koolinga Cooking Program, with the commitment from ARYZTA, to not only fund this with a generous donation of $120,000, but to support, encourage and participate in the building of skills of the students at Mandurah Primary School,” Ms Upcott said.

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Posted on:

14 May 2024

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Ngangk Yira Institute for Change

A strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient Aboriginal people and communities. Ngangk Yira's research is determined through a partnership between Elders, community stakeholders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers and focuses on complex issues in Aboriginal health and the achievement of social equity.

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