Leighton Buzzard cookery school looks to build its business as pandemic restrictions ease

'It’s been wonderful to watch so many children cook their family’s dinners and achieve such recipes as French Macaroons and a Gingerbread House from scratch'

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:06 pm

With society opening up in line with the Government’s roadmap out of the pandemic, the Leighton Buzzard Observer wants to be with our readers every step of the way. We want to hear your positive stories about how you/your family, your business, your club/society or maybe your sports team is re-emerging from the restrictions which have made the past year so challenging. See details at the end of this article for more details on getting involved.

Here, Melinda Johnston, Area Manager, Smart Raspberry Cookery School, Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable, tells her story...

Hi, I’m Melinda and own the Smart Raspberry Cookery School, Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable. I teach children and teenagers how to create delicious recipes, without any previous knowledge of cooking, so that they can become competent cooks even if they do not feel confident currently.

Melinda Johnston, Area Manager, Smart Raspberry Cookery School, Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable
Melinda Johnston, Area Manager, Smart Raspberry Cookery School, Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable

Before the pandemic I was running several after school cookery clubs in primary schools around the Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable area. During the holidays I organised workshops with different themes eg Valentine’s Day or Christmas. In 2019 I started a Saturday cookery school in my home for keen young cooks and teenagers taking on the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme.

I was also organising children’s birthday parties, where they got to cook the birthday tea! You might have seen me at Leighton- Linslade Town Council’s Christmas festivals and Big Lunch events.

My business was steadily growing but in March 2020 as the country headed for its first lockdown, all my clubs got cancelled. So Smart Raspberry quickly moved online delivering after school cookery lessons and workshops to children who wanted to do something different in the kitchen whilst being at home.

The online clientele has steadily grown over the past months. It’s been wonderful to watch so many children cook their family’s dinners and achieve such recipes as French Macaroons and a Gingerbread House from scratch.

As we slowly come out at the other side of this challenging time, I have been invited back to some of my schools. Holding in-person classes again has been great, a small contribution to help build up children’s self-esteem, whilst teaching them to cook healthy and nutritious dishes. I hope in September, that things will be very much back to normal, so that I can expand the business and continue to teach what I feel is a very important life skill.

Why not get involved in the Leighton Buzzard Observer’s Happy Returns feature? We’d be delighted to hear details of how businesses and the community are emerging from the restrictions of the pandemic.

It might be news of a business relaunching, your youth sports team resuming its matches, how your school is coping with the ongoing challenges, how your club or society is ditching Zoom and is looking to meet face-to-face again, a family reunion or celebration which can finally go ahead, or the many other examples of events and activities we all took for granted slowly returning.

This is a great chance to tell your story over the coming weeks and months ahead. Submit 100-300 words to this newspaper on how the pandemic has had an impact, how you’ve kept going and most importantly news of your ‘Happy Return’ when it’s deemed safe. We’d also love to receive photos of those joyful reunions/reopenings. Please send all details to [email protected]