Student success

In Cooking by James Anstee

Master Chef champion Irini Tzortzoglou has been cooking up life lessons at the University of Cumbria – or Yumbria, as it’s being called.

The University of Cumbria is teaming up with 2019 MasterChef champion Irini Tzortzoglou to offer its students an exclusive cookery class series. Uni.Yum is a series of six free sessions where the chef presents a 45-minute session every week from the kitchen of her home in South Cumbria. Sessions will range from cookery basics to nutritional elements, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Students will be invited to create dishes in real-time with Tzortzoglou and join in live and interactive Q&As. The scheme aims to help students at the University of Cumbria to learn to cook satisfying and nutritious meals for themselves and others, on a budget, using basic ingredients and equipment. They will gain valuable culinary skills and knowledge, not only helping break up the time spent at home during lockdown but also preparing them for life beyond graduation.

Cretan-born Tzortzoglou says, “I am looking forward to sharing my cooking knowledge, tips and tricks. These are no ordinary cookery classes as Uni.Yum will include advice on shopping as well as cooking, and on eating mindfully. We are aiming for a healthy and happy time on campus – and beyond – while increasing the confidence and creativity of the students. Uni.Yum is also going to break up time studying and being at home during lockdown. Eating food is often meant to be a shared experience. I hope this will give University of Cumbria students across the country a chance to cook dishes for loved ones and others where that is possible.”

Dr Signy Henderson, Dean for Student Success at University of Cumbria, adds: “This is a challenging time for us all including our students. The social aspects of university life this year are necessarily different with much more of a focus on staying in and making the most of the home environment. Therefore, it is pleasing to see how Uni.Yum will provide students with a creative outlet to try something that’s different and fun, expanding their knowledge about balanced eating and how to use good, simple ingredients to nourish themselves and perhaps share within their household.”

And beyond

Tzortzoglou will continue to offer knowledge in the form of short videos, photographs and recipes through the dedicated Instagram feed where Uni.Yum students will be also invited to post and put questions to the chef whenever they need to be supported or inspired.

Passionate about the culture of her homeland, where the food heritage goes back thousands of years to Minoan times, Tzortzoglou is a fervent advocate of growing our own foods and buying locally wherever practical. She is also a keen supporter of growers and breeders who engage in ethical and responsible practices and use foodstuffs offered freely in the local countryside, being herself a keen forager. As a trained olive oil sommelier, she is also passionate about the health and culinary benefits of extra virgin olive oil, a fundamental pillar of the much-touted Mediterranean diet.