A Day In The Life – Mith Samlanh Cooking Teacher

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In this edition of ‘A Day In The Life’ we are introduced to Nina, cooking teacher at Mith Samlanh.

My name is Nina and I have been teaching the level 1 cooking vocational training class for the past seven years.

I usually arrive at Mith Samlanh at 7.30am and begin my day by checking that everything is in order in the kitchen. I count how many students have arrived and if there are any unexplained absences I will inform the relevant Case Manager who will follow up with the student to address any problems. The first thing I do with the students is check their hygiene before dividing them into three groups based on experience. Group 1 begins learning hygiene, Group 2 checks and prepares vegetables while Group 3 combines all the ingredients and begins cooking dishes. The first stage can sometimes be quite a challenge; for youth who have spent their whole lives on the streets, adjusting to basic personal hygiene, let alone the standards I require in my kitchen, can take a little while. I am very strict! The students spend around two hours preparing lunch for everyone at the center. I monitor their tasks then taste the food they produce and grade their dishes. The students eat before helping with serving everyone who comes for lunch – sometimes over 700 people in total!

Mith Samlanh Cooking Class

Nina, left, in white hat, teachers children basic food preparation in the Mith Samlanh kitchen.

After lunch all the students help with cleaning up. In the afternoon I teach them about ingredients, such as unfamiliar vegetables they have used in class cooking. A large part of these lessons is health and nutrition. I educate them on how to eat well for their own health as well as how to create balanced menus. Twice a week we focus on specific Khmer and Western dishes in preparation for their move to the next levels – training at Romdeng or Friends the Restaurant. I evaluate their work and make plans with individual students on how they can improve. I’m usually pretty tired after running around the kitchen all day so I like to spend my evenings resting at home and relaxing.

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