In January 2015, I read an article about Leon Restaurants re-launching their Cook 5 initiative aimed at encouraging children to cook five dishes.  As a Mum who loves to cook with their children, I thought this was an excellent idea and signed up immediately.  I soon realised that the cooking we had been doing was actually focusing mainly on bread, cakes and jam – which were things we had learnt to make together.  Cook 5 encouraged us to learn some new savoury dishes: main meals and side dishes that could be prepared simply.

Both Christopher and Charlotte won dish of the month with their first dishes.  They continued to cook additional dishes and by the end of the year, all three children had cooked 20 dishes between them.

We were contacted at the beginning of the year, to say that Charlotte was overall winner of Cook 5 and she was to be presented with a cheque by John Vincent.  Armed with one recipe each, we eagerly made our way to London.  Our first stop was Bankside LEON.  We were delighted to be treated to range of dishes from the new menu, followed by a delicious range of bakes.  Fuelled by the best LEON food we made our way to LEON HQ to meet a multitude of staff including the wonderful John Vincent.  The children spent three very enjoyable hours in the test kitchen.  A highlight of the afternoon was to help John prepare some wonderful pork, apricot and onion meatballs, a recipe from a LEON cookbook. After much chopping, mixing, kneading and baking John and the children cooked a delicious spread of dishes that proved to be very popular amongst the LEON family!

Charlotte was delighted to be presented with her big LEON cheque in a golden envelope.  All the children were presented with LEON goody bags and a variety of LEON cookbooks.  We spent the journey home drooling over these recipes and planning our next dish.

We have loved being involved with Cook 5 as it has been fun and has prompted us to cook more main meals together.  Friends and family have been involved and have cooked the dishes we submitted to the Leon website.  Many of our friends, like us, had never previously heard of Leon.  When visiting London now, we always have a meal at a LEON restaurant, rather than other fast food restaurants.  The children eagerly devour every meal we have at a LEON restaurant, which is served with a happy smile each time.

It has been fantastic being involved in Cook 5 and hope that our involvement will inspire others to get cooking with their children.