HITZ students are cooking up a storm

Date: 28 Mar 2018

Wasps’ first team chef has been helping the region’s teenagers to adopt healthier lifestyles after it was revealed one young person put FIFTEEN spoons of sugar in their cup of coffee.   

A group of teenagers were granted rare access to the kitchen at Wasps’ Broadstreet training ground where they are being served up a nutritional masterclass by the club’s performance chef Gaurav Abbi.

It is one of several nutrition classes that will be held for 30 teenagers in total at the training ground this year.

The sessions are part of the Wasps HITZ programme which is Premiership Rugby’s education and employability initiative that works with 14 to 19-year-olds across England every year who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). The programmea is delivered by rugby clubs such as Wasps at a regional level.

The students were shown by Abbi – who regularly feeds around 70 rugby players – how to create the right mix of protein and carbohydrates in their meals using everyday items.

The HITZ students were then taken to a supermarket and challenged to buy a balanced meal within a particular budget.

Abbi said: “The session laid bare some unhealthy habits. Fifteen sugars in a coffee was a shock, but another person revealed they drank four energy drinks today – which is equivalent to eating 36 sachets of sugar a day.

“But rather than telling the students what they are eating is bad and wrong, the focus should be on educating these young people that healthy eating can be fun too.

“The group walked away from the session with a few affordable options of what they can have as a meal – whether it’s using ready-made ingredients to make a chicken and vegetable wrap, or cooking something as simple as poached eggs.

“One student came away from the session with ingredients to cook his family a stir fry, which was great to see, and if that happens every time we run a session like this, then it’ll be worth it.”

Anthony O’Reilly runs the HITZ programme at Wasps, which engages up to 15 students a week that are working towards achieving essential qualifications.

He added: “Some of these teenagers have never cooked for themselves or even visited a self-service checkout at the supermarket before, so this nutrition session alone has helped them to gain confidence to be able to make them more independent as people.

“Abbi was the perfect person to educate the students about a balanced diet, as he has plenty of experience producing protein-heavy meals to help our first-team players recover after a game and carb-heavy food leading up to a game.

“This session just scratches the surface of what young people can get out of the HITZ programme both personally and professionally.”

For more information about the HITZ Wasps programme, visit www.wasps.co.uk/HITZ or search @HITZRugby and @HITZWasps and Abbi's personal business @Food4Pro on twitter.