The Fazerila teaching kitchen in Vantaa is full of hustle and bustle: the volunteers of SOS Children’s Villages are attending a Cooking School where they have now received their assignments and start washing, chopping and mixing ingredients. During the autumn, volunteers, active young people and visitor families of SOS Children’s Villages have all taken their turns in creating a delicious three-course meal under the guidance of professional chefs.

Red onions are sizzling in vinegar on a pan under the watchful eye of Irmeli Sahlberg. She is preparing a side dish for the main course, hamburgers. Like the thirteen other volunteer step-grandmothers and step-grandfathers, Irmeli is spending the afternoon at Fazer’s Cooking School, learning new tricks from a professional chef.

“This is such a lovely bonus. I never thought that volunteers like us would be pampered like this,” says Sahlberg as she stirs the onions.

This afternoon’s attendants volunteer weekly at SOS Children’s Villages’ Mummun ja vaarin tupa (Grandma and Grandpa’s Cottage). There, they play with children and cook food while giving parents a moment of peace and peer support.

“My own grandchildren are already starting to get older, so it’s great to spend time with the little ones and hold them. The joy is mutual when a child comes to see me and happily shouts Immu!” says Irmeli, who spends time at the Suvela branch, describing the best aspects of volunteering.

Group management skills in order

Jussi Ikävalko, the Fazer visitor centre’s chef, has his hands full answering questions about cutting fish, taking out the rubbish and the thickness of the dessert mousse. Calmly, he solves all the issues and reminds the participants to always wear a safety glove when using a knife.

On the dessert station, step-grandfather Antti Viitasaari is piping sweet mousse into bowls as another step-grandfather Markku Heikkilä and an employee of SOS Children’s Villages, Jonna Kutvonen, lay down layers of biscuits and sweets for a trifle.

Antti, who volunteers at the Karakallio and Myyrmäki branches, says that the best thing about volunteering is enjoying the company of small children and discovering new things about yourself.

“It’s marvellous just to spend time with children, even though you know that everyday life isn’t always that easy.”

A cheery chitter chatter fills the room when delicious fish sandwiches, hamburgers and trifles are enjoyed at the dinner table. Inspired by the Cooking School, one step-grandfather is already planning a burger party for Mummun ja vaarin tupa.

Fazer offers food experiences

As a corporate partner of SOS Children’s Villages, Fazer also offers Cooking School sessions to other groups at SOS Children’s Villages in addition to step-grandmothers and step-grandfathers. Active participants of SOS-Kehittäjänuoret, as well as families visiting Mummun ja vaarin tupa, have also attended Cooking Schools.

“Fazer has traditionally taken responsibility for the wellbeing of local communities,” says Liisa Eerola, Head of Communications responsible for partnership programmes.

“Through the partnership, we want to support SOS Children’s Villages’ work in creating a safe family environment for children and young people.” 

She says that food experiences are Fazer’s core competence, and cooking and enjoying food together is key in food experiences. The Cooking School combines all this.

“We bring a little extra joy, wellbeing and love to people. This is realised in our work with SOS Children’s Villages, for example. We strongly believe the family is an important asset in the individual growing up as a balanced adult.”

Fazer also made SOS-Kehittäjänuoret’s autumn meeting possible by providing facilities for the young people’s work in addition to the Cooking School and a visitor tour. More than twenty young people participated in the weekend.

“I’ll work here when I grow up”

In groups for children and adults, recipes have been simplifiedSOS_ruokaelämys_450x450.jpg, but everyone has the opportunity to take part in cooking. This Cooking School’s participants include families who visit Mummun ja vaarin tupa in Espoo and Vantaa.

In this group too, ketchup is made from scratch, and 11-year-old Milja is making sure that it doesn’t burn.

Ten-year-old Aleksei fell so much in love with Fazerila that he plans to get a job at Fazer when he grows up.

“I could do a computer job, but maybe I could still eat a few sweets from the conveyor belt?”

SOS_ruokaelämys_jälkiruoka_450x450.jpgDessert bowls are filled to the brim with sweets, biscuits and sweet mousse, and more chocolate has to be melted for the rocky road treat. The children are making the most of their time at Fazerila!