Guardian Childcare & Education

Cook in the Spotlight: David Colenso from Sweet Peas

17th January 2018

David Colenso Sweet Peas Early Learning Centre

For many of us, eating is not only a necessity but it’s also a joy (and something we think about a lot!). And it’s the same for the children at Sweet Peas – an early learning centre in Sydney. Every day the centre is open, you’ll find David Colenso in the kitchen cooking up healthy and delicious meals or running cooking classes for the children.

David and the educators recognise the importance of healthy eating, particularly in young children.

“We have a commitment to ensuring children learn about the benefits of eating healthy foods and why it is so important for their growing bodies,” says Kate Sutcliffe, Sweet Peas’ Centre Manager.

“The families really value the healthy meals that are served to their children, with a focus put on only serving meals made from fresh produce; no sugars, artificial flavours or preservatives. New families that start at the centre often already have heard about David and the nutritious meals that are made each day.”

Cooking classes started a little while back and have been very popular at the centre. So that no child misses out, the team have created a detailed roster ensuring each child gets their chance in the kitchen.

“As David has been here for over six years, he is very efficient in the kitchen and therefore had some spare time each day. Together we collaborated ideas of how this extra time could be used. With the children’s input, we decided cooking classes would be a wonderful opportunity for David to share his knowledge and skills. The classes have been a positive learning space from the beginning, and still are!” comments Kate.

And what have the children been cooking?

“The children have explored many different types of food and really impressed their educators and parents by trying a wide variety of foods that they would not usually. There is a lot of excitement in the air when they get to take what they have made home to share with their families – loaves of bread, cakes, muffins etc. All sugar free of course!” says Kate.

Recently David won Cook of the Year at the NSW Educators Awards Night so we caught up with him to find out more about nutrition at the centre.

Tell us a bit about your career background.
I have been cooking for 23 years, starting out at Lismore RSL where I did my apprenticeship. I then moved to Sydney and have worked in a number of different places, cooking all different types of foods and different styles.

How long have you been at Sweet Peas for?
I have been working at Sweet Peas for nearly seven years.

What’s the best part of your job?
I love cooking healthy and nutritious meals for the children. The best part of my job is doing cooking classes with the children and teaching them how to cook healthy food.

What’s one of your favourite things to cook for the children?
Chicken and corn soup.

Why is nutrition important for children?
Nutrition is very important to children as they need to eat healthy and nutritious foods to keep them healthy and to develop healthy eating habits.

What was your most loved food as a child?
I loved chicken and corn soup when I was younger.

And most disliked food?
I don’t like prawns.

Congratulations to David for winning this award. We can’t wait to see what he cooks up in 2018!

What makes Sweet Peas a wonderful early learning centre?

According to Kate Sutcliffe, Sweet Peas is just like one big family. “Our educators have a genuine passion for working with young children and this is shown through their commitment to providing high quality education and care,” she says.

Many of the educators have been at the centre for a few years which has allowed for consistency and a great way to build long term relationships with the families. Time and effort goes into ensuring our learning environments allow for children to be inspired and motivated whilst investigating, researching and building relationships.

To learn more about Sweet Peas and to book yourself in for a tour, head here.


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