A unique program is getting students at a Guelph elementary school comfortable in the kitchen.

For the last eight weeks, grade 7 and 8 students at St. Peter Catholic School have been taking part in the Fanjoy Junior Chef Culinary program.

“So we come in once a week and they're in the program for an hour, hour and a half,” said Pam Fanjoy, who runs the culinary curriculum.

Fanjoy said students learn knife skills, fire safety and how to use equipment.

JUNIOR CHEFSShe admitted that several families live in a neighbourhood where food insecurity is prominent so each meal the students make – they get to bring home.

“We know with the rising cost of groceries, every family is struggling. But particularly families who are coming from disadvantaged circumstances,” she said.

Students said their parents are pleased about meals they bring home.

“My mom has enjoyed everything I've brought home but I think that's just because she's my mom,” said Wyatt Simonato, one of the students.

It’s a unique opportunity in the sense that students don't often get the chance to cook in the classroom in elementary school.

“Catching them early is going to give them that opportunity to say 'Oh, this is something I want to work for. This is something I want to investigate more when I get into highschool,’” said Special Education Resource Teacher Chris Matteis.

junior chefsThe entirety of the program, acting as an appetizer of sorts – leading up to the finale where families come to the school to taste test everything students learned to cook.

“Very tasty. All good food. Can't complain. It's been amazing,” said parents Chris Withers and Kim Weber.

“She was very proud to present it to the family and both of them are on the spectrum. Her brother is very texture sensitive and he ate the sheperd's pie. And she was pleased he ate the sheperd's pie. She said 'even my brother likes it,' said Jackie Stumpf, another parent.

With bellies full and students fulfilled – they're not the only ones feeling motivated.

“Maybe she'll inspire me to cook because I don’t cook,” laughed Stumpf.

More about the junior chef culinary program can be found by clicking here.