Pizza making at Jacksplace

Adam and Claire from Play Team chopping onions

Last week at Jacksplace, we made pizzas!

The young adults made the sauce from scratch, rolled out the dough, put their pizzas together and put their chosen toppings on top. We spoke to Claire Floyd from our Play Team about why it’s important to make, cook and learn about food at Jacksplace.

Claire said:

We do a lot of cooking and baking at Jacksplace as giving the young adults the chance to learn how to make and cook the food empowers them, gives them independence and gives them the ability to be able to feed themselves.

Young lady with dough
Young adult with pizza dough

Even for our young people who aren’t cognitively able, the sensory experience of the food is hugely important. Being able to touch the food and feel the texture, smell the different aromas, and hear it cook is hugely important.

We’ve adapted our cooking utensils, to increase the young adults’ confidence when preparing food. For example, we cut the veg with hard plastic knives and onion cutters. It’s important for the young people to give it a try and feel they’re in control, which builds up their confidence.

Edmund Sayer is one of Naomi House & Jacksplace’s fantastic cooks. He said this about cooking with the children and young adults:

We work a lot with the Play and Activities Team to introduce cooking to the older children and young adults here, as its important for them to experience cooking. Learning basic skills is key in building independence.

Edmund and Boys Group cooking on BBQ

I really enjoy interacting with everyone – when we cook together, the guys talk and open up a bit more. Last week I cooked burgers with our Boys’ Group and they really enjoyed the experience. We all chatted and learnt more about the food and cooking process, and they commented on the smells and the sizzling sounds and were really engaged with the whole activity. We make cooking fun!

Rather than food for food’s sake, it's good to get everyone involved in making it. Even if someone can’t eat a lot of it or any of it, the sensory experience of touching it, being able to explore food, put it together, cook it and learn more about it is important – it’s the holistic approach to eating. And someone is more likely to try the food if they’ve made it themselves.

It’s also important for our young people to experience the raw product; whether that be dough, meat or fish, as it gets them over the fear of a texture they may not have experienced before. Then when they come across it again, they associate it less with a negative/squeamish feeling and enjoy the preparation more.

Edmund and Adam cooking in BBQ hut

Adam, a young adult who was staying at Jacksplace, was Head Pizza Chef on the day. He said:

I loved being able to make pizzas. I did a GCSE in Food Tech and cook quite a lot at home with mum. The best part of it was sitting and eating the pizza at the end!

Adam rolling dough

Adam’s mum, Mary, also said:

From my point of view, it’s great that Adam gets to spend time independently with his peers and do the things that he enjoys.

Check out this short video to find out how you can make a Jacksplace pizza delicacy, with Head Pizza Chef, Adam!