Regional Cuisine with a dash of Inclusion

Sarah shows Birgit how she separates egg yolk and egg white and puts them into two different bowls. ‘Your turn.’ Sarah is a trainee as kitchen specialist. Birgit works in the kitchen area at Lebenshilfe. Today they are cooking together.

The second cooking workshop within the framework of the joint project ‘Inclusive Kitchen 4.0’ (IKKE) took place on 16 January 2020 at the Oberstufenzentrum Prignitz. As part of their training, four teams put together a professional brunch buffet with regional products. A special situation: the trainees are a mixed group of apprentices as chefs, kitchen specialists and employees from Lebenshilfe. The anticipation was great. The cooking workshop in May 2019, the beginning of the project, was positively remembered by all 13 participants. Since then, they have been taught together as an inclusive class in the module ‘Regional Cuisine’. In the run-up to the workshop, the mixed teams themselves were able to choose recipes with local specialists and wrote their own shopping lists. The team of Alessa, Hardy, Ole and Pascal chose a classic potato soup. In advance, they have discussed who would be responsible for certain actions. The atmosphere is good. Everyone works together very collegially and, as far as possible, independently. In addition, the teams are supported by four trainers who can advise and intervene. Jan Härtling, trainer at the Prignitz Vocational Training Centre for Kitchen Specialists, explains the important steps for a successful yeast dough vividly.

The practical part works out very well. During the interviews, some participants admit that they had concerns at the launch of the IKKE project due to the different skill levels that are involved. But their apprehensions were not confirmed. Quite the contrary: Individual trainees are discovering completely new skills. With great patience they show their team members special cutting techniques or try to operate the Thermomix together, which is being used for the first time in their cooking training. Among other things, it is designed to help people with mental disabilities to follow the work steps of cooking more easily.

A greater challenge is the theoretical instruction. As part of the module ‘Regional Cuisine’ the focus not only lies on the cooking but also on the geography of the federal state as well as the district of Prignitz. The history of the region and the development of the art of cooking also play an important role. These topics are harder to understand for people with learning disabilities. The IKKE project has set itself the goal of revising the learning contents in order to meet the different learning requirements of the three target groups. With the use of technical aids and new teaching methods, the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal is testing how barriers in knowledge sharing can be removed. The entire project is scientifically monitored and evaluated. A guideline for the ‘joint school’ of the future will be developed.

Punctually on the dot of 12:00, the inclusive class, the trainers and the IKKE team sits together at the laid tables of the teaching restaurant. Headmaster Jan Meyerhoff thanks the participants for their openness and commitment in the past school year. He is very enthusiastic about what the teams have put together: ‘The buffet is open’.