It wasn't his usual service - catering to 24 excited primary school kids, many talking over him and at least two dancing in the corner - but for award-winning Kiwi chef Michael Meredith it was still fun.

The Eat My Lunch chef was hosting a group from Mangere Central School on the first day of his new cooking school yesterday. It's part of the Eat My Lunch programme, which gives one lunch to a child in need for every lunch bought through its online service, and teaches kids how to cook easy, healthy meals.

"It was fun, I enjoyed it," he told the Herald afterwards. "It was very different ... it was still cooking but in a different way."

Describing it as "a little bit of organised chaos", Meredith helped the children to cook vegetable fried rice, with banana and chocolate chip muffins for dessert.


"The kids enjoyed it; they sat down at one big table and really tried everything they cooked," he said.

The children helped squeeze lemons and chop spring onions, and even brought ingredients - such as freshly picked kale - from their school vegetable garden.

It's a big difference for some of the children, who last year were trying vegetables such as tomatoes and celery for the first time.

The cooking school is starting in the 30-plus Auckland schools who get lunches from the Eat My Lunch programme, and Meredith said it was an extension of what he and founder Lisa King were trying to achieve.

"As well as the lunches we wanted to do the cooking schools because it relates to what we're doing with kids being educated in how to cook.

"With us having a proper kitchen, we have the opportunity to showcase that and for the kids to be involved in making real simple recipes they can do at home."

They get the opportunity to visit Eat My Lunch's kitchen in central Auckland and cook with professional chefs such as Meredith.

"It's exciting, and it's good for the kids to get involved in cooking quite early," he said.


"And you never know - we might get some really good chefs out of it, or some passionate cooks."

What is Eat My Lunch?

• The company was founded by Auckland marketers Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan last year to help tackle poverty in New Zealand by giving a hungry child a healthy lunch. The concept works on a buy-one-give-one system - so for every lunch bought, the company gives a wholesome, freshly made lunch to a child in need.

• Chef Michael Meredith - who also runs Dine by Donation nights - quickly came on board.

• The start-up this year celebrated delivering 100,000 lunches to children in 30 schools across Auckland, and has expanded to Hamilton and Wellington.