Photography by Mantra Media

Blend Kitchen, a Sheffield city centre café, bar and restaurant, is creating waves as the social enterprise reaches out into the community to better people’s social and professional lives through cooking.

The idea of Blend Kitchen is simple; offer good food to customers with a daily changing menu whilst also training and providing opportunities in catering to a wide range of people, regardless of background. Getting into the food industry can sometimes feel like a daunting task, as long hours have to be spent working from the bottom up and those with less privileged backgrounds might not be able to find that starting point in which to initially get into the industry.

What Blend Kitchen does is offer that starting point. They specialise in giving training to those who wouldn’t normally be able to access it, and gives them the opportunity to understand how a kitchen runs and the industry works. Their programme places people in their very own café, giving them experience in various roles, ranging from barista training, waiting on and cooking in a busy working kitchen. The training programme can then lead on to other work opportunities and gives vital skills to put on your CV.

The immediate professional benefits of this type of training are very apparent, but training in this environment and understanding how to cook food has many social benefits too. The interaction that comes from working in a kitchen can increase confidence and help social skills because of the type of cooperation and teamwork that has to exist between the chefs and waiting on staff. Also, giving people with fewer opportunities and job prospects a training opportunity means they are brought into the world of real work and can make connections with other people and the society around them.

Blend Kitchen, however, doesn’t just offer training to those wanting to get into the industry, they also run cooking clubs and lessons in the local community. By providing classes in the community, Blend Kitchen is helping people to gain confidence with cooking and teaches people how to cook healthily in a sustainable and affordable way, so that they maintain a lifelong happy relationship with food. The free sessions also mean that members of the community can meet and socialise with each other, where otherwise they might not have.

The things that Blend Kitchen is achieving show how food and cooking is a good medium for personal and social improvement. Food and cookery have always been a fundamental part of human life however; those of us privileged enough to have easy access to food and basic cooking skills can easily forget the importance of it in a person’s life. The ability to cook and understanding what food is good for you is essential for carrying out a healthy lifestyle and for being as productive as possible. Blend Kitchen is certainly showing how cooking is a vital skill and is now paving the way for a new generation of chefs right here in Sheffield. So go and support them and other enterprises like them in your area and get involved with the food revolution!

To find out more about their ethos, menu and cooking clubs and courses, visit Blend Kitchen’s website here.