How can we take the best of what our grandparents ate and bring it into the 21st century? There’s so much to learn from the traditional ingredients, recipes and techniques which form so much of the intangible heritage of Europe’s regions, but sometimes they need a little twist to make them relevant to today. That’s what the Erasmus+ project Cook It Forward is all about: helping vocational students to use their culinary heritage to build their future careers.
Vocational colleges and expert partners in Lithuania, Spain, Ireland and The Netherlands have worked together for two years to make that happen, after being awarded funding under the EU’s Erasmus+ programme. The project officially started in November 2020 and finished in January 2023.
Cook it Forward is primarily aimed at vocational school students in hospitality and cooking, as well as their teachers. The project also reaches out to the world of work, building alliances with the restaurants, food companies, caterers, farmers, producers and local authorities who can truly impact the world that students will graduate into.
The project developed a number of practical tools to help vocational colleges and regions on their way. A teachers’ guide to equip educators with the framework they need to help their students discover culinary heritage, alongside learning materials for students. The project also created a toolkit for food companies to help them connect with vocational talent, plus a guide for vocational colleges on how to set up Regional Culinary Heritage Alliances to make sure their work really connects with their region.
Although the impacts of the project are felt on a regional level, the project is truly European: partner organisations and students learned from each other, with examples and inspiration being drawn from across the continent. Cook It Forward also offered students and teachers the chance to connect on a European level. Teachers traveled to Friesland in the north of the Netherlands to learn from one another and an international learning week brought students together in Galway, Ireland.
Culinary heritage, innovation, practical skills and students from across Europe working together: we proved that Cook It Forward is a real recipe for success! Our project scored 98 out of 100 points upon evaluation by Erasmus+!