Can anyone lend me a sausage stuffing machine?

Retired journalist and keen amateur cook Tom Shields explains the buzz behind the Broken Biscuits Cookery Club, a community initiative where food professionals pass on skills to families

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After many years as a columnist with our sister papers The Herald and Sunday Herald, Tom Shields has launched the Broken Biscuits Cookery Club
After many years as a columnist with our sister papers The Herald and Sunday Herald, Tom Shields has launched the Broken Biscuits Cookery Club

Retired journalist and keen amateur cook Tom Shields explains the buzz behind the Broken Biscuits Cookery Club, a community initiative where food professionals pass on skills to families

The aim of this article is to examine the role of community action in improving attitudes to food among Glasgow families.

But first a more urgent question: can anyone reading this lend me a portable sausage-stuffing machine?

I make this request in my capacity as head of resources (aka scrounger-in-chief) of the Broken Biscuits Cookery Club.

The club organises low-cost cooking classes for young people aged from five and up.

The Broken Biscuits' philosophy is that while government campaigns are unlikely to change eating habits, efforts by individual families might.

Our next session is on Saturday, when there will be a pop-up sausage factory in the kitchen-café at the Albany Centre in Ashley Street, Woodlands, Glasgow.

The young chefs will create their own designer bangers under the guidance of butchers from Mamore Boucherie & Charcuterie of Springburn, meat suppliers to the restaurant trade.

While the Mamore staff bring their ingredients and know-how, they cannot transport their sausage machine, which weighs half-a-ton, produces ten feet of links a second, and could not be operated by a five-year-old. Hence our plea.

Our young cooks will be working with pork, leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, apples and a range of herbs and spices.

They are no strangers to fresh ingredients. Previous classes involved encounters with cauliflower while making pakora; avocado and spinach smoothies, Vietnamese prawn rice paper rolls and salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes.

The accent is on fun, which there is aplenty watching kids getting to grips with pineapple, mango, and kiwi for a fruit salad or building an estate of gingerbread houses from scratch.

The Broken Biscuits club operates without any public funding whatsoever, mostly because life is too short for the organisers to go through the hoops of filling forms.

It manages to exist because of the kitchen and café made available on Saturday mornings once a month by the Albany Centre.

The Poundland shop in Partick provides kitchen essentials. Lidl have been generous with produce, as have MacCallums the fishmongers.

Chefs from Mother India, the Ubiquitous Chip, Flavour Co, the Two Mamas, and Guillermo's Tapas have all donated time, expertise, and ingredients.

Food professionals have provided advice and guidance on hygiene, health and safety. The Business Insurance Bureau chipped in with £1 million in public liability cover.

Wintersgill's pub, on Great Western Road, sponsors customers' kids to attend classes and we work in association with the Spirit Aid charity, who provide food and education to children in Malawi.

The main contribution to the club is from the mothers (and a few fathers) who come along to cook with their young chefs and clean up afterwards.

What we have learnt at Broken Biscuits - apart from how focused and keen the young chefs can be - is that there is a great deal of goodwill towards the concept of a community family cookery club. Also how the classes can be done cheaply at £5 per family per session.

In fact, if we could get round to securing public funding, Broken Biscuits might be like the NHS... free at the point of delivery.

lIf you can loan a sausage machine, email Tom at brokenbiscuits@talktalk.net

lTo enquire about classes, email the Albany Centre at outreach@gcvs.org.uk or call them on 0141 354 6521

Food and drink

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