Mobile kitchen pops up at ECU

Jamie’s Ministry of Food-Mobile Kitchen parked at ECU, Mt Lawley.

Marley Amphlett

Jamie’s Ministry of Food-Mobile Kitchen parked at ECU, Mt Lawley.

Marley Amphlett and Vesh Arumugam

For several weeks, the presence of a large vehicle in the car park has puzzled students at Edith Cowan University in Mt Lawley.

ECU Daily saw this as an opportunity to investigate and educate. Kristy Clark, Arts and Communications student, said: “It’s been in the car park for a while, I haven’t seen any movement and I don’t know what it is.”

Rather than walking past and dismissing the vehicle, ECU Daily followed the fragrant trail. We were led to what turned out to be Jamie Olivers’ Mobile Kitchen.

Upon entering the vehicle, we were greeted by enthusiastic food trainers, a rustic, homely atmosphere and fresh produce. The inner part of the vehicle was well-ventilated and had a mixed smell of a farmers’ market – a smell that intrigues a passer-by. The mobile kitchen plays host to cooking classes.

The cooking classes are available for people aged 12 and above. The short course runs over seven weeks, with each class running for 90 minutes. The end goal is to equip participants with the skills to budget, shop for healthy produce and cook nutritious meals.

The classes are conducted by local food trainers. A small blackboard placed out the front, of what appeared to be a makeshift café, said: “Keep Calm and Curry On” indicating the theme of the week. Each week participants attempt to make a new cuisine which they can take home. The theme varies from week to week ranging from major continental cuisines to simple desserts.

Vesh Arumugam and Marley Amphlett
A look inside Jamie’s Mobile Kitchen.

With a steady rise in Vegetarian and Vegan diets in Australia, can the mobile kitchens keep up with consumers’ dietary requirements?

While many still eat meat, there has been a decrease in red meat consumption.  Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, of Roy Morgan Research, said: “Whether people are embracing a less meat-heavy diet for health, environmental or animal-welfare reasons, the fact remains that this trend looks set to continue.

“Not only has there been an increase in near or total vegetarianism across Australia, but almost 9.9 million Aussie adults (53.4%) agree that they’re eating less red meat these days.”

While the class offers information that Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-free participants can use, in the instance of specific dietary requirements, class members are required to bring their own ingredients in addition to the cost of the class.

Media spokesperson of The Good Food Foundation, Camilla Spiers, said: “For anyone with dietary requirements, our team talks through options and ensure that everyone gets a lot from the class.

“However, they would need to bring their own ingredients in the case of gluten-free for example.  The first class in the course is all about eggs, so for a Vegan this class would provide knowledge that they could pass on but would not necessarily be specifically relevant to their diet.”

Mobile Kitchen Manager for WA, Marie Fitzpatrick, said: “We don’t cater for each specific food behaviour … we certainly offer alternatives. If someone is Vegetarian we offer them how to make that dish Vegetarian, lots of the dishes are without meat. It is for the wider community.”

“We get a lot of people these days that identify as gluten-free or coeliac. People can bring in substitute ingredients if it is not suitable for them. What we really do suggest is people actually go through the course as it’s intended.

“You can make the dish with the ingredients we provide you and then give it to someone else who will appreciate it,” Fitzpatrick added.

ECU’s co-leader of Jamie’s Ministry of Food Program, Professor Amanda Devine, said “On campus students and community members have benefited from the program in many ways. They have seen how easy healthy eating can be, improved their cooking and nutrition skills by undertaking the program, learned new tips and tricks to use in the kitchen and how healthy food isn’t expensive.”

The partnership between ECU and Jamie’s Ministry of Food is a valuable one. “We would not be doing what we do in WA without the much needed support from ECU,” explained Spiers.

Sadly attendees hoping to catch a glimpse of the celebrity chef will be disappointed as he has other commitments in the UK.

“Jamie Oliver is intrinsically connected to everything we do, he encourages us on social media and when he’s in Australia, he always visits one kitchen.  He has done one off classes at special events to thank the staff and volunteers at our Geelong Kitchen in Victoria.

“He does interviews for us and helps us to promote the new kitchens and any special workshops. And of course, all the recipes we use, all our teaching techniques, all the content in the classes are from Jamie,” Spiers added.

The classes in Mt Lawley are currently underway and fully booked, however the Mobile Kitchen may be back, so keep your eyes peeled.

The next location announced is the Brighton Hotel Car park in Mandurah from Monday November 20, 2017.