I taught them to cook

If you teach cookery or learn about cookery you might like my book I taught them to cook available on Amazon.

Stories of what it was like to teach exams in the 1970s – memories of all the dishes that had to be cooked for the practical exam. Find out what life was like in London in 1970s.


Could not put this book down, I loved home economics when I was at school & I can relate to a lot that Jenny wrote about.

Much of it made me smile and brought back memories of vesta curries and ‘exotic’ dining in Soho in Italian restaurants.

A real slice of nostalgia provoking many memories of my own lessons and early Food teaching. Jenny is so right about the exam.

The followup is underway on my Jenny Ridgwell Blog

Jenny Ridgwell Memoir

I Taught Them to Cook – my food memoir of teaching cookery in 1970s in an east London comprehensive school. It was a first time for many things – cooking spaghetti, recipes in metric, boys learning to cook, just like Nigel Slater might have done. It’s a story of a cookery year, as me made things through the seasons – pickling in the autumn, Christmas cakes in December, marmalade in January, rhubarb crumble in early spring, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. The summer term is judgement time when my students take their 2 hour practical exam – much harder than the Great British Bakeoff. New foods like avocados arrive in London food markets and the diverse communities open restaurants with food from around the world.

Reviews from Amazon
Elle – This is such a wonderful memoir that reminds me of my food lessons at school, but also so much resonates today.

Lesley – You don’t have to be interested in food or education to enjoy Jenny Ridgwell’s page-turning account of teaching a disruptive and unwilling class of teenagers how to cook food in the 1970s

Jenny – Really good book that is easy to read and gives a fascinating insight into life in the early 70’s and the stereotypes that existed within the educational system especially in the subject of home economics.

Thompson – For those of us who went through this teaching era can completely identify with the outdated attitudes of the day. Jenny did something about it.

Caroline – I am a food teacher so I can relate to a lot of the content. Very inspiring!

Future for the Nutrition Program?

Many Nutrition Program users have been in touch as they love the Program and don’t want it to close.

We have conducted a small survey asking if users would subscribe if the program reopened. 90% said yes so we are pursuing ideas for its future.

This is part of an email from Carla Molinari shown with her permission.

Thankyou to Carla Molinari for this email

“I am very excited to hear that the Program may come back…we have really missed it this year!

The star diagrams, nutritional analysis and costing are all on one program and so accessible for students. I used to work in a school with an extremely high amount of EAL students (over 52 languages were spoken as a first language), I work in a very different school now.

In both schools I have been able to show students how to use the program once on the white board and students remember and then can navigate around it so well. This year students have used another program but it doesn’t have costing and so students have to spend more time (which we have very little of!) creating this from scratch whereas your program had this.

Students have noticed that your program had more ingredients to select from and are having to use a lot of ‘Best fit’ ingredients instead. This is also then creating more work for students as they need to explain this when the nutritional label doesn’t reflect the dish accurately.

In addition, it’s great for differentiation/personalised learning because lower ability/SEND students can use it to help them speed up the amount of time they can spend researching and creating charts/graphs. It also allows them to gain a basic understanding of the 5 main nutrients too. For More Able/G&T students it allows them to learn then apply knowledge & understanding of Macro/Micro nutrients- this is fantastic for higher marks and deeper learning.

I also have the booklet that goes with it and that works so well too. The program is suitable for KS3 and 4 and I used it for both. I haven’t found anything on the market that compares.

This is part of an email from Heather Sale, Teacher of Food and Nutrition of Cockermouth School.

We would be lost without The Nutrition Program at GCSE – our students find it easy to use and it has been invaluable in producing accurate & detailed nutritional profiles and star diagrams for NEA tasks. We have been commended by GCSE moderators on our students’ comprehensive nutritional analysis, using your program. PLEASE keep it going – it is such a useful resource!

Tasting word bank

The Nutrition Program has a Tasting word bank which you can use for sensory evaluation for NEA 1 and NEA 2 and make a Star Profile.

Find words for

  • Taste, flavour and smell

    Tasting word bank in Nutrition Program

  • Appearance
  • Nutrition

Click the words you want to use and add them to Descriptors for your Recipe.

This example shows how to make a Star Profile for a Fruit salad.

Choose the tasting words – the sensory descriptors – you want to use and give them a Rating mark.

So Fruit salad should be

  • colourful 5/5
  • crunchy 4/5
  • sweet 4/5
  • healthy 5/5
  • attractive 5/5

The Nutrition Program draws the Star for you. Download as JPG

Now add a Taster (Jenny in this example) to taste your fruit salad and get them to score their results.

Now you can Evaluate the results of the fruit salad and see if it needs improving.

Just fill in the spaces for Evaluation.

Download the JPG to present in your work.

You can annotate the Star with more comments.

The final Star Profile compares the results of fats in pastry to see how they taste. You can add several types of pastry to the star to compare results and annotate.

Star profile fruit salad

Star profile with Evaluation filled in

Star profile with completed tasting and Evaluation.

Star Profile with annotation

Star profile for fats in pastry with evaluation

Star profile of fats in pastry with annotation.

This video shows how to do it

Sensory analysis video