© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Blokes get busy in the kitchen with Men to Cook programme

Louise Ternouth
Emma Turton
Gas Cooker
Men of the pilot Men to Cook course Phil Teasdale, John Marten, Nick Te Paa, Paul Meek and Ray Wood cooking as a group.

For six weeks, every Thursday, a few good men gather in the Riccarton Baptist Church to learn to cook.

They come from different backgrounds, but have a shared goal. 

The Men to Cook course was set up by a local chef Paul Meek, who saw the need for a community-funded cooking class run just for men, and it's already making an impact in their lives. 

Attendees say the course has given them more confidence in the kitchen and they look forward to class every Thursday.  

Friends Niwa Rangiwhetu and Aaron Tily said the course was "quite easy". Tily joked he had "learnt how to not burn food". 

Together, the men have made simple, economic meals ranging from the Kiwi classic mince pie to Oreo cheesecake. 

With Meek in calm control of the men on their portable gas cookers, they make efficient use of time to learn the skills needed to prepare and create the dishes.

The social aspect of the class also plays a role in what keeps the men coming back.

Meeks' biggest highlight was "seeing the men get all excited about what they're going to do and how they're going to do it."  

He emphasised the course was about the men's personal improvement, not for them to become world class chefs. 

Men to Cook has funding for a repeat course, starting in two weeks. There are plans to start a women's course and an advanced course.

Almost all of the men, who range in age from early 20s to late 80s, started out as strangers, but are now close friends. John Marten said he hoped to keep the friendships forever. 

Starting as beginners, they've made cooking mishaps together, such as; burning the food or straying from the recipe but have learnt and bonded over these mistakes. 

Another factor of the course, for the elderly men especially, is the need to learn to cook independently. 

In a generation where males often missed the opportunity to cook, Men to Cook is the initiative that has given them the skills and confidence they've never had before.  

"I'm getting older now and if I happen to end up on my own, at least I'm going to be able to have skills to do this," Larry Pateman said.

Cheesecake Process2
(Clockwise from the left) Phil Teasdale, Larry Pateman, Niwa Rangiwhetu, Aaron Tily, John Marten, Nick Te Paa, Paul Meek and Ray Wood cooking as a group. Emma Turton