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MasterChef champion Irini Tzortzoglou cooking up life lessons at University

University of Cumbria is teaming up with 2019 MasterChef champion Irini Tzortzoglou to offer its students an exclusive cookery class series.

‘Uni.Yum’ is a series of six free sessions launching on Wednesday, 27 January 2021.

Irini will present a 45-minute session every Wednesday at 6pm from the kitchen of her home in south Cumbria. After the launch, each session will follow a different theme ranging from cookery basics to nutritional elements such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Via Microsoft Teams, students will be invited to create dishes in real time with Irini and join in live and interactive Q&As.

The scheme aims to help students at University of Cumbria learn to cook satisfying and nutritious meals for themselves and others, on a budget and using basic ingredients and equipment. They will gain valuable culinary skills and knowledge, not only helping break the time spent at home during lockdown but also preparing them for life beyond graduation.

Harnessing the power food has in bringing people together, the cookery series will also be a creative outlet to support students’ wellbeing.

Not only will they be able to cook with Irini, students also have the option to watch the shows with those within their households at a time when many are correctly following government’s ‘Stay at Home’ messages and are not yet back in their usual university halls or accommodation.

Crete-born Irini said: “I am thrilled to be sharing with students some of my cooking knowledge, tips and tricks. These are no ordinary cookery classes as Uni.Yum will include advice on shopping, cooking and eating mindfully,  aiming for a healthy and happy time on campus and beyond while increasing confidence and creativity. 

“Uni.Yum is also going to break up time studying and being at home during lockdown. Eating food is often also a shared experience and I hope this will give University of Cumbria students across the country and beyond a chance to cook dishes for loved ones and others where that is possible.”

Irini lives near Cartmel in south Cumbria, a food lover’s haven renowned for its award-winning restaurants and eateries and its world-famous culinary figures. She published her first book, ‘Under the Olive Tree’, in the summer of 2020 and is currently writing her second.

She added: “I’m also very excited to be able to continue to offer knowledge in the form of short videos, photographs and recipes through the dedicated Instagram feed Uni.Yum where students will be also invited to post and put questions to me whenever they need to be supported or inspired.

Dr Signy Henderson, Dean for Student Success at University of Cumbria, said: “This is a challenging time for us all including our students. The social aspects of university life this year are necessarily different with much more of a focus on staying in and making the most of the home environment.

“Therefore it is pleasing to see how Uni.Yum will provide students with a creative outlet to try something that’s different and fun, expanding their knowledge about balanced eating and how to use good, simple ingredients to nourish themselves and perhaps share within their household.

“Uni.Yum offers the flexibility for students to join the cooking sessions with Irini live or to watch the demonstrations and cook later, whatever works for them.”

Molly McConnell, welfare officer at University of Cumbria Students’ Union, said: “I am delighted to have been able to assist Irini and the university on the Uni.Yum project, especially having had my own challenges with meal times during my degree and my recent healthy eating campaign halted by the pandemic.

“The project also aligns well with the Students’ Union’s focus for the beginning of this semester: we’re working to reignite the motivation and passion in our student body as they push through their assessments and, for many of them, continue on as key workers alongside their studies.

“Irini’s passion and energy has been hugely refreshing and I know it will be an incredibly inspiring experience for the students that engage with the sessions. I can really see the potential therapeutic value for our students too, particularly those struggling to switch off in the evenings and on again in the mornings.”

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