Getting to Know the Real Food in the Kitchen. For us, food fills our stomach, it reflects culture and life attitude, It is perhaps the epitome of various faces of life. A food education class, gives us a new understanding of food, broadening our horizons.

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“Do you know what this is?” The teacher held a red, round fruit in one hand while asking a class of 3 to 4-year-old children. “This is a tomato. Say hello to it! There are also green and yellow tomatoes. They all come from the same family.” The children listened attentively to their teacher, their eyes fixed on the tomatoes they held in their little hands. Then the teacher took out some soil and handed out all sorts of seeds to everyone, instructing them to sow the seeds in soil and water and fertilize it. “Now, let us sing a song and see if anything looks different!” The teacher began humming an upbeat tune along with a picture book, guiding the little students to explore the world of food.

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Food is not just to satisfy our stomachs, but also connects people

Mini Cook is not your average cooking classroom. It is a kitchen where you learn how to cook and learn about food as well as the relationship between food and health. It is a place where children and parents can enjoy the fun of learning.

Chief Executive Fan Xin-Pei founded Mini Cook on the inspiration of the many international articles on food education, which made her realize how much focus many countries across the globe puts on food education and the years they spent on it. It made her realize that food education is more important than we ever imagined.

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It’s not just about knowing food or eating a proper, varied, well-balanced diet; it also involves the identification of food safety and the country of origin, and more importantly, the connection between life and land.

For example, Sansing green onions are a staple food in Yilan with its long white stalk and juicy and sweet taste. Situated at high altitudes with abundant rainfall, Yilan is home to high quality Sansing green onions. Food takes us on a journey of nature, history, and culture and also encourages us to evaluate the environment we live in.

Food education: Back to simplicity and nature

“I still remember when my son was young, he drew an apple the shape of a half moon. I then realized that he has never seen how a whole apple looks like. He has only seen peeled and sliced apples,” Fan Xin-Pei laughed while recalling the memory. This is because we aren’t giving our children the opportunity to properly learn.

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What Mini Cook does is actually very simple. When there’s food or even a glass of water in front of you, you immediately begin wondering where it comes from. The classes are designed based on four seasons and holidays, using a selection of local Taiwanese food and picture books and songs that address environmental issues. Fan Xin-Pei believes that from the minute you start caring about where food comes from, you will think about its connection to land and the environment. One day when children visit the country of origin of certain food, they won’t be unfamiliar with the environment. Instead, they will be inspired to understand why this piece of land can produce this type of food and slowly develop a deeper connection with the country. This type of connection will be sown in their hearts and gradually sprout into something amazing.

You will discover how well children are able understand and memorize all of this.

Food revolution: Changing a little at a time 

In addition to planning more classes in the future, Fan Xin-Pei also passionately engages in charity work. To her, food education is not only targeted at children, but  also the students majoring in food and beverage at schools she lectured at. “Lots of kitchens are high stress environments. Some students may think they’re just doing repetitive stuff, like chopping and cooking vegetables. They are not aware of their social value. I want these students to know that chefs have a huge responsibility because of their intimate relationship with food, which is why they have the power to change the society and the world. So, I introduce many chefs around the globe such as Jamie Oliver who uses their power to make a difference or help those in need.”

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Fan Xin-Pei wants everyone to know that cooking is not just about the food, but a heartfelt gift grown from the nourishing land by the hands of farmers. So, as we come face to face with a new type of food or a dish, we should treasure the moment and savor every taste.

Getting to know food is more than just seeing the essence of food from a different perspective, but also knowing our connection with the land that nourishes us.