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!
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.