Trinity Catholic College students’ cooking skills were given a boost when 2015 MasterChef contestant Ava Stangherlin visited to share the fresh gnocchi recipe that landed her a place on the cult food show.
The four students in Year 7 and 8, who are part of the school’s ASPECT unit for students on the Autism spectrum, learnt how to make both the gnocchi and a vegetarian sauce to complement it during a two-hour food technology class on August 26.
ASPECT teacher Alex Rowe said the visit gave the students, who follow the Board of Studies Life Skills syllabus, a more exciting way to engage with cooking and kitchen safety.
“I know that a couple of the boys watch MasterChef so I thought I’d try make the experience a bit more exciting for them by inviting Ava, rather than me standing up there and telling them which way to put a saucepan handle,” he said. “It was great. They loved it. They were dicing onions and tomatoes. They didn’t really know how pasta was made, and didn’t know that it came from flour, so they learnt about that as well as a bit of the Italian culture.”
The life skills curriculum integrates English, History, Science, Mathematics and other subjects with skill-based learning. The food technology lessons include a community visit to Woolworths to buy the ingredients before cooking. “I always focus on how I can link the curriculum to a life skill that is going to be beneficial for when they leave school,” Mr Rowe said. “Mathematics can come into buying ingredients and exchanging money.”
“The boys live in the moment, so straight afterwards we went back to the class and I printed out a picture of the class and got them to write a recount of the event,” he said. “They all loved it. I said to Ava you’ll probably meet your most honest critics, because people on the spectrum speak their mind. The gnocchi was the dish that got her a place on the show, and one of the kids tasted it and goes ‘It’s all right’ !”