In that room, rather than being taught, the material is eaten. Or rather, enjoy yourself. It's a rare day when the students of the kitchen course at Escola Secundária Pinheiro e Rosa, in Faro, do not put hands on to prepare the most diverse dishes: either in the pedagogical restaurant, open to all, in the menus takeaways or in the «precious help» they give to MAPS – Movement in Support of the Problem of AIDS.
It's 10:00 on a Friday, and on headquarters of the Pinheiro e Rosa cooking course, lunch preparation is advanced.
Divided into several tasks, the students, dressed in lab coats, prepare a tomato rice with fried fish that will be the lunch of needy families, supported by MAPS.
Professor André Pereira Rodrigues follows everything step by step, but the autonomy shown by young aspiring cooks means that he hardly has to intervene.
The MAPS support project is just one of the many aspects of this very special cooking course.
«We started in the 2016/2017 school year. At the time, we had nothing, but when I arrived here, the management of this school, which is fantastic, told me: “André, we have nothing, but you can do everything”», he tells the Sul Informação.
With the help of restaurants and hotels, which donated material, and with the help of professor Luís Almeida de Jesus, it was possible to make dreams come true.
«Our week is divided like this: on Mondays, we do or takeaways or educational restaurant, open to anyone. On Wednesdays, we have the restaurant-kitchen, more elaborate and open to everyone, or the takeaways. Finally, Friday is the day we help MAPS», describes André Pereira Rodrigues.
The remaining two days, Tuesday and Thursday, are dedicated to theory and «the techniques that serve as the basis for any cuisine».
Maria Pisten, 18 years old, is one of the students in this course (in total, there are 32 young people attending it, divided into three classes).
To the report of Sul Informação, says that the experience has been «really very good».
«I'm in the second year and I decided to choose this course because, in my house, there's always been a lot of cooking. When my parents cooked, I watched everything and I got that taste”, he says.
After having already done an internship, at the end of the first year, Maria starts to think about what the future will be, after the end of the course. And everything seems to be well designed.
«First, I want to earn some money and then open my restaurant», he says.
For colleague Linys Oliveira, the decision to enter the cooking course was not so easy, but the balance is also very positive.
“I was going to be a hairdresser”, she says, laughing.
“It was only later that I became interested in the kitchen. Here at school they told me about the course, I had a friend who told me well, I ended up coming to try it out and I'm really enjoying it”, she adds promptly.
Along the way, Linys Oliveira, who came from Brazil with her parents and has the dream of opening a bakery, tells how the teachers' support has been «excellent».
“They make you feel like you're almost working in a real restaurant,” he says.
And that's the main objective behind all the dynamism of this cooking course.
«Our courses are already recognized and that, for us, is wonderful. It is proof that our efforts have paid off because this is an opportunity for our students as well», says Professor André Pereira Rodrigues.
Young people who graduate from Secondary Pinheiro e Rosa are already sought after in the job market. In the 3rd year class of last school year, of the eight students, three are working in the field.
“We, at the height of the pandemic, when we started collaborating with MAPS, made food for 500 people daily. He has no idea how crazy it was», recalls the professor.
Currently, students are making around 60 meals every week just for this association, in a voluntary work that also motivates young people a lot.
«The fact of being able to combine volunteer work with these courses I realized was an asset, always taking into account that it is important to give them experience as chefs», says André Pereira Rodrigues.
In the classroom, transformed into a kitchen, lunch is practically ready. The fish is already being fried and the rice is finished.
Tomorrow, there's more.