Paddock to plate philosophy at Paisley Park
THE future looks bright for the young pupils at the Paisley Park Early Learning Centre in Tinana, who are tasting the fruits of their labour as they learn the paddock to plate concept.
The early learning centre hosted its Spring Supper to celebrate the introduction of their new full menu, which is prepared by a qualified nutritionist and chef on site.
It is the education philosophy of co-founders Kat Wiecsorek-Ghisso and Peter Raue, who met six years ago and both had a strong vision for childcare.
Ms Wiecsorek-Ghisso said there were a few key areas they wanted to focus on.
"We met and realised we had a strong vision for what we wanted to achieve for childcare nationally, not just where we are based in NSW," she said.
"We wanted to push the boundaries at a national level."
One of them was the physical environment.
"We wanted to create magical places for children where nature was embedded in the everyday," Ms Wiecsorek-Ghisso said.
"So they would see nature in action. Fresh growing produce, rockery and sandpits, things that looked like a park - that's why we called it Paisley Park.
"We wanted children to see nature is not square, nature is very free flowing and we have no control over what nature does but it was about children respecting nature and giving back to nature in a way that is nurturing and caring.
"The other things is that it extends to food and nutrition."
Understanding the pressure of work and lifestyle, together with their now-executive chef Jason Standring, they have changed the landscape.
"We want people to start to pay attention more about healthy eating," Ms Wiecsorek-Ghisso said.
"We know parents have their children's best interests at heart but when they are pressured by work and lifestyle it can be really tricky.
"We have an opportunity in childcare because a lot of our children spend anywhere from eight to 12 hours in childcare a day, every day.
"If they have that time, not only to be eating well but to be experiencing what food is all about, they are developing a holistic understanding of what food and nutrition is.
"It is part of that paddock to plate - I have been part of it, I have nurtured it, I watched it grow, I have taken that ingredient, I have given it to the chef in the kitchen, I have watched how they prepared it and now I am tasting it.
"Now I am tasting the fruits of my own labour.
"If children learn that from a young age, imagine what we could do long term in this country for the next five or 10 years down the track.
"Those children will be walking into supermarkets choosing fresh produce, not going to the fast and easy option.
"They would know good food is not hard - a few ingredients, putting in some flavours and it's there.
"Food is a social experience - for us it is about giving children those experiences as young and early as we possibly can."
Ms Wiecsorek-Ghisso said their menus were tailored to fresh, in-season produce and prepared by qualified, experienced chefs.
Chef Mr Standring said he loved cooking from an early age and had been in the industry for 30 years.
When the childcare centre he was working in was bought by Ms Wiecsorek- Ghisso and Mr Raue, he said their ideals aligned.
"I steer the cooking side of things - what can and can't be done in the kitchen - and Kat works with nutrition and implementing of different and interesting fine motor skills and gross motor skills and children learning counting and measuring," he said.
"We developed that together and decided to expand it across the country - I came on as their executive chef.
"The highlight for me is talking with the parents - the parents who have seen the changes in their children and their eating habits.
"They find that their children eat their dinners better, enjoy their dinners, it's not such a battle of an evening.
"The children are now eating what they eat.
"The children who have started off in the nursery haven't developed what they do and don't like and so as they come up through the rooms they naturally eat what is provided for them.
"At a preschool age they are fully confident eating quinoa and kale and silverbeet, beetroot, Brussels sprouts.
"They are willing to give anything a go - much more accepting.
"The children become adventurous with the food too. I started off just making dough and now I make whole dishes with them.
"It has been so inspiring at what we can accomplish."
Formerly known as World of Learning Tinana, the recently upgraded centre caters for children from six weeks to five years and is open from 6.30am-6.30pm daily. Paisley Park Tinana also provides before and after school care and an amazing holiday program, with a courtesy bus provided to transport children to and from their school.
For more information visit 18 Woongool Rd, Tinana, phone 4123 4933 or visit their Facebook page.