For one afternoon in July, the NCIE’s After School Program activities room transformed into The Grossest Restaurant in Redfern!

Accompanied by its own recipe book, The Grossest Recipes in Redfern, the restaurant served burritos, guacamole and fruit salad to its hungry customers – the students, staff and families of the NCIE’s After School Program.

The food itself was far from gross, it was fresh healthy and was the result of a term spent exploring nutrition, different types of food and techniques, recipes and ingredients in a fun, creative and, yes, gross, way.

Staff at the NCIE children’s program also wanted to get the children more involved in nutrition as well as more involved in what’s happening in the centre. For example, rather than the food just being served, the children helped to prepare the food and be part of how the food comes to be served.

Matt Roden from the Sydney Story Factory led the program, in partnership with OzHarvest and the City of Sydney, where the children got to be involved in food-making, learn a bit about recipes ingredients, skills, AND to write about the experience as they went through it.

“We said, now that we’ve done all that lets be funny and creative around it,” said Matt.

“The ice cream exercise was one of my favourites.”

“The fun was to draw and describe ice cream, decorating it for whoever you wanted. So we got ice creams for unicorns, zombies, robots, pirates and vampires, anytime you give kids permission to be gross in a story it’s a boost to creativity.”

In case you’re wondering, vampires do like their ice cream with “…a blood cube on the top, with three frogs hearts, two snakes tails and….”well, you get the picture.

The book from the project, The Grossest recipes in Redfern now takes pride of place in many homes in the area and of course at the NCIE.

It contains recipes for simple, healthy food like bircher muesli, hummus and chicken wraps, as well as pages of stories drawings from the After School Program children, suggestions for the “best” worst restaurant name (yes, Snot Monster Restaurant is there) some gross recipes and phew, a healthy alphabet.