Cooking classes for beginners planned

Reach Church senior pastor Brendon Perumal supports cook Annie Beattie at the most recent...
Reach Church senior pastor Brendon Perumal supports cook Annie Beattie at the most recent community lunch and as she prepares for the upcoming beginners’ cooking classes. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
Providing people with hearty and nourishing meals on a budget is the aim of the new Reach Church community cooking classes.

The passionate Soup or Salad team, headed by Claire Glass, who previously ran the Oamaru Farmers Market, has been running community lunches at the church for close to a year.

The team offers hearty soups and salads on the first Thursday of every month for a donation.

Mrs Glass came up with the concept for the cooking classes after the success of the lunches and said they will run a six-week beginner’s cooking class next month that will aim to teach people seasonal cooking and how to cook efficiently and economically.

"We received a $900 grant from the Waitaki District Council, which was awesome.

"We’re mindful of the predicaments people are in with the cost of living these days. It’s showing people what you can do with in-season produce. It doesn’t have to be meat and three veg, it could be three veg and really tasty."

Local organisations such as the Oamaru Art and Craft Market, Grey Power and Harbour St Bakery have also been donors to the lunches.

The lunches and cooking classes are also about "social connection", especially for the elderly, Mrs Glass said.

The Soup or Salad team also plans to establish a "design a wishbag" foodbank where people in need can craft the food they need, "rather than end up with foodstuffs they don’t need", Mrs Glass said.

The community lunches are made by "chief cook" Annie Beattie with support from Sandra Tonkin, the same team that will run the upcoming cooking classes.

Ms Beattie said it was important to book in advance for the classes and for the lunches, as they have become popular.

Oamaru locals Jill Steenson and Annie Sutton were at the most recent community lunch and were "very impressed".

"I really enjoyed it. It was a two course with soup and a main," Mrs Steenson said.

"Loved it. Not just the meal, the people were lovely too," Mrs Sutton said.

Ms Beattie is a local cook who ran popular wholefoods restaurant Simply Living that was "ahead of its time" in 1989.

The restaurant was dedicated to cooking with local produce and healthy eating, with natural treats such as chocolate muesli square and banana sour cream pie. Ms Beattie also owned the well-known Star and Garter restaurant for two years and ran a commercial catering kitchen from her home for seven years.

"Annie is a guru caterer who I have learnt a lot from," Mrs Glass said.

"We’ll start with beginner classes and that may lead to intermediate level too."

Ms Beattie said for the winter season they were looking forward to teaching people how to make chunky wholesome scones and farmhouse soup.

She had lots of tips on how to cook on a budget and efficiently.

"It’s really important when you’re cooking, if you boil up some rice, don’t cook up one cup of rice, cook up two or three cups of rice and make a rice salad and put it in the fridge.

"Then you can make some rice patties and throw in a tin of salmon and an egg, and put them in the freezer and make your lentil pie," she said.

"A lot of people don’t like spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Knowing and learning how to cook in advance is good and to have one clean up instead of three different clean ups."

Ms Beattie said the beginners classes will start on Saturday, July 6 and people can email to enrol. Donations for the community lunches and the Soup or Salad Oamaru foodbank can be made at Reach Church.