Teaching Kitchen: How this free and exciting workshop at York improved my cooking skills

Written by Boris Licina

I often cook for my family and knew I wanted to improve my skills, but I was unsure where to start. And then voilà— I heard about Teaching Kitchen workshops at York!  

What is Teaching Kitchen?

Teaching Kitchen is a series of workshops hosted by chef Fredric Pouch and Registered Dietitian Dahlia Abou El Hassan, and I attended one of them on the Keele Campus. As I found out quickly, the Teaching Kitchen covers several important things. It addresses the United Nations' sustainable development goals, teaches students how to reduce food waste and teaches about the health benefits of different food and ingredients. And of course, it teaches how to prepare specific recipes and aims to improve students' culinary skills.

Yes, chef!

The recipe in the workshop I attended was a Greek pasta salad with chickpeas— a nice and healthy Mediterranean dish. As soon as I put on my apron, gloves and hat, I felt like Carmy, the main character from the TV show The Bear! With a professional cooking knife and all the ingredients in front of me, I was ready to start. While chef Fredric was giving instructions, like how to properly hold a knife or chop a pepper, Dahlia talked about the nutritional value of the meal. 

We learned many food facts during the workshop, like how cucumbers are 96% water but have many vitamins, and that eating colourful food is good for our health! Find more food and nutrition tips on the Food Services website.

Teaching Kitchen was fun!

New skills and memories of home

Although I cook a lot in my family — I am a mature student with two kids and it relaxes me — I learned some new things I did not know before. For example, I learned that I should cut tomatoes lengthways and why I cry when I cut onions (it’s because the knife is not sharp enough!). 

While this workshop improved my cooking skills, it also helped with my weak side: seasoning. One of the seasoning ingredients was basil leaf. For me, basil is the smell of home, as my mom has it in pots in front of the house in Croatia, which is a couple of hundred meters from the Adriatic Sea and only 50 kilometers from Italy. As a Croatian, I am also familiar with Mediterranean food, and I know that the Mediterranean diet is frequently connected with longevity. I loved that this recipe also had two of my favourite ingredients: olives and tomatoes. 

Pro tip: Join the Teaching Kitchen mailing list to be the first to learn about new classes. 


After I cut cucumber, pepper, onion, olives, tomato, parsley and basil and mixed them with the pasta and chickpeas, I prepared a salad dressing. Chef Fredric showed us the steps, while Dahlia shared some interesting facts about the ingredients such as olive oil.  Did you know that Greece is the largest consumer of it, and Spain is the biggest olive oil producer? Olive oil is also heavily used in my home and country. 

Once finished, I put the dressing on this beautiful Greek salad, and we had lunch. Lunchtime during these workshops is also an excellent opportunity to share your thoughts or talk with your co-chefs in a relaxing and welcoming space.  

When the workshop ended, we received our Teaching Kitchen certificates. My kids loved the certificate and I promised to make them Greek pasta salad with chickpeas soon. Try it yourself by following the recipe below! 

Greek pasta salad with chickpeas