28 March 2024

Cooktown kitchen sessions celebrate 10 years of breaking down barriers

| Lyndon Keane
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It is smiles all round at PCYC Cooktown as club manager Sergeant Dave Goode and participants use the Eat, Cook, Live program to learn handy kitchen skills and break down barriers. Photo: Supplied.

Cutting, chopping and an array of other culinary skills are being used as a way for traditional barriers between police and youth to be broken down in Cooktown.

The Eat, Cook, Live program has now been running at PCYC Cooktown for a decade, with the six-week course bringing police and youth together for two hours to learn about cooking and nutrition as they chat about life and what is happening in their community.

The program is the brainchild of club manager Sergeant Dave Goode, who explained he saw his love of cooking as an innovative way to connect with youth.

“I have a passion for cooking and I love to share my knowledge with the students,” he said.

“We have a lot of fun in the kitchen, and it is great to see them grow in confidence through the program, whether it be with their knife skills, working with potential hazards in the kitchen, or showing them that they can produce great tasting meals.

“The idea of the program is to have a police officer engaging with youth, and to break down the barriers and perceived ideas from both sides.

“I use food as the medium to bring both parties together.”

READ ALSO PCYC an integral part of Cooktown community

The program teaches participants a range of skills, from food hygiene and identification, to how to follow a recipe and present your cooking.

Of the six recipes cooked during the program, Sergeant Goode said the chicken and bacon carbonara, and spaghetti Bolognese were the standout favourites, adding he had one strict rule when it came to ingredients.

“The students have to put all the ingredients into the meal whether they like it or not, then, they are given the option to pull what they don’t like out of the finished meal,” he said.

“To date, I haven’t had any student do that.

“The program packs a lot of vegetables into the recipes, which are masked by the great flavour of the resulting meals.”

The program was initially funded by My Pathway but is now supported through the State Government’s GenQ Health and Wellbeing Community Grant Scheme in a testament to the positive impact Sergeant Goode’s initiative has had in Cooktown.

While cooking skills are one of the most significant outcomes from the program, participants explained engaging with Sergeant Goode had also played a role in shifting their perceptions about police.

“Sergeant Dave is a good cook, so I think he’s all right!” one respondent commented in their post-program survey.

The only controversy to rear its head during the program has been whether pineapple has any place in fried rice, a battle which resulted in a 66 per cent vote in the negative.

Notwithstanding the result, Sergeant Goode was adamant the tropical fruit made all the difference to the end product.

“I love pineapple in my fried rice,” he laughed.

“It adds sweetness and a surprise element to the final dish.”

Sergeant Dave Goode demonstrates the finer points of kitchen success during an Eat, Cook, Live session at PCYC Cooktown. Photo: Supplied.

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