Aspiring chefs learn from Masterchef
Rylee Bfannan And Andrew MacLean

Six teenagers with cerebral palsy recently had the opportunity to discover their hidden cooking talents with the help of 2011 Masterchef contestant John Hughes.

In a three-day Masterchef Cook Ability workshop at Perth City Farm, Mr Hughes, who also has cerebral palsy, taught the young aspiring chefs how to read recipes, select and prepare ingredients and then cook and present food.

Showcasing their new-found skills on the final day, the participants prepared and served a three-course meal for their parents and siblings. "Day three is a very emotional day," Mr Hughes said. "The children are so excited about cooking for mum and dad."

Mr Hughes said his main aim in the workshop, run with the Centre for Cerebral Palsy, was to help participants develop confidence in their ability to achieve.

"I give them resources and time to be able to achieve and execute the recipes - that's very important," he said.

Food has always been important to Mr Hughes and helped him realise his abilities.

"I think food can bring people together in many different ways," he said. "My brothers were really big into playing sport (and) I was unable to play. I found my way in the kitchen and found I was able to achieve."

Mr Hughes said Masterchef had given him the exposure and profile that had allowed him to do what he was now doing - running workshops, public speaking, mentoring and fundraising.

Workshop participants each received a cookbook containing the recipes they learnt, to highlight how they contributed to each dish.

More than 3500 people in WA are living with cerebral palsy and a child is born with the condition every 15 hours in Australia.

Emma Chitty

The West Australian

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