A wonderful initiative to get retired men into the kitchen and cooking has really taken off in the local area, with another ‘Men’s Kitchen’ now in Turramurra, adding to the successful first one in Lindfield.
The Ku-ring-gai Men’s Kitchen is modelled on a concept that has been successfully running on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for a few years. The idea behind it is to create a space for older men who have retired or lost their partner to learn how to cook and meet other men in a similar stage of life.
Retirement for some men is a time to improve their golf handicap and pursue other hobbies. But, for others, it’s a time when they lose their sense of purpose and miss the interaction with work colleagues. Research has shown that men are far more likely to become depressed and isolated in later life when they stop working, due to friendships being sacrificed for their careers. Older men who live alone often have the extra burden of not being able to cook themselves a nutritious meal.
However, the upside is that the extra time on their hands can be used positively to increase their skills and meet new people. For older men, living on their own or with a partner, learning to cook together with others is a very rewarding experience.
The Men’s Kitchen provides a fun, safe, supportive and instructive environment where men can learn cooking skills and make new mates in the process. Each month, members choose what they would like to prepare, then under the guidance of two experienced instructors, the group prepares the selected dishes. Once the cooking is done, everyone sits together to enjoy their culinary creations.
Old Dogs. New Tricks. Great Mates.
The Men’s Kitchen was so successful at its first location in Ku-ring-gai – St Albans Anglican Church Hall in Lindfield, that another was able to be opened last year as well in Turramurra.
“Our second Ku-ring-gai kitchen is operating in the Turramurra Uniting Church Hall, which is the same venue where we conducted our Ku-ring-gai launch in August 2022. This venue is located off Gilroy Lane Turramurra with access to the venue off a large two-hour public car park.
Helped significantly by two grants, one from the Ku-ring-gai Council, the other a Federal Grant obtained via the member for Bradfield Paul Fletcher, we are now operating one cooking session each month and we plan to be operating three cooking sessions each month by early 2024.”
What Happens at the Men’s Kitchen
“At each of our cooking sessions we conduct our program in the same manner:
- We meet at 11am and have a chat about the menu of the day discussing any significant points about each new recipe.
- Then we form into pairs, with each pair tasked to prepare a complete dish. They then choose which dish they would like to tackle. (Generally, a choice of a main, a dessert or any side dish of the day like flat bread or salad.)
- Prepare the meal with the cooking instructor helping us to learn by pointing out tips and techniques as we construct our dish.
- When the meal is ready, we sit together and enjoy the feast we have just made and have a general chat.
- Plan the menu for the next time we meet. At this point, we seek volunteers to buy the ingredients for each menu item, and a volunteer to wash the aprons and tea towels.
- Finally, we clear up, wash the dishes and depart by about 2pm.”