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I joined A.P.P.L.E as a chatty 9-year-old who was possibly one of pickiest eaters you could imagine.  My eating habits were limited to the 2/3 Portuguese dishes my parents made at home, plus the junk food from the local chicken shops.

When I first joined A.P.P.L.E I was very sceptical about trying any of the food they cooked and didn’t really want to reach beyond my comfort zone. Even just trying some veggie rice or a rhubarb crumble wasn’t anything I was even mildly interested in. I remember Vicki always telling me “you don’t have to eat it all, but at least try it.”

It definitely didn’t take too long before I started taking her advice, and I’m glad I did. A.P.P.L.E has given me the chance to try a variety of different foods, most of which I didn’t even know existed (like rhubarb), and that picky 9-year-old who would pick apart all her food with a look of disgust on her face, has gone.

One thing that I really admire about the staff at A.P.P.L.E is the way in which they encourage the children and youth to take part in preparing the food and even take responsibility for preparing a specific meal alone. Cooking events like “A.P.P.L.E. Come Dine with Me” and “Fajita Fridays” are a common occurrence at A.P.P.L.E. As a result, I learnt everything I needed to know about cooking for myself and especially how to cook a healthy, nutritious meal quickly, rather than depending on take-outs.

I’m now at university and the opportunities given by A.P.P.L.E. have definitely been beneficial to me when self-catering in university halls. It actually took me by surprise when I first moved into my university halls, how little other students knew about cooking, but luckily not something that I personally struggled with due to all the skills developed at A.P.P.L.E.

One of the highlights of my time at A.P.P.L.E. were the yearly trips we would take to a “Pick your own” farm.  Just seeing where all the food we made, came from was something we all found very interesting and actually quite exciting.  We’d travel back to A.P.P.L.E with bags full of fruit and veg including really weird food we’d never seen before but were excited to try out.

The cooking opportunities at A.P.P.L.E. have not only helped me to let go of my fear of change and trying new experiences but have also made me less afraid of making a mistake. There’s no doubt that all the children and young people who have stepped foot in A.P.P.L.E. will make a mistake at some point or another, but the staff at A.P.P.L.E. are always there to assure you that mistakes can be made and it’s not the end of the world.  When cooking for example, you can always make any mistakes work for you, and must never let it discourage you. As I was always assured, not all meals will come out as a Michelin starred meal, but you must take each outcome as a learning opportunity."

Abigail Leitao

Go to our about us page to find out more about A.P.P.L.E.

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