Budding young chefs from across Bangladesh are flexing their cooking skills in "Shorno Chef," a new television cooking show co-created by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and UNICEF to inspire healthy eating habits among adolescents and their families.
The cooking show featuring adolescent chefs aged between 12 and 17 who compete in a different cooking challenge each week broadcasts on Fridays at 8:30pm and on Saturdays at 1:00pm on Duronto TV. UNICEF Bangladesh broadcasts a new episode on its Facebook page and YouTube channel every Saturday at 8:00pm, reads a press release.
At the end of each episode their dishes are assessed for both nutritional value and taste by a panel of judges, which includes a professional chef and a nutritionist.
"Raising the level of nutrition in Bangladesh is enshrined in our country's first constitution. The Government of Bangladesh has been working towards that goal ever since. It is appreciable that alongside Government's efforts on nutrition, development partners like UNICEF are teaching adolescents about the importance of nutrition and teaching them at an early age to cook not only filling meals but also nutritious ones," said Dr S M Mustafizur Rahman, line director, National Nutrition Services, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Lack of a varied diet of vegetables, fruit, and protein such as eggs, fish, meat and pulses can leave long-lasting and hinder a child's cognitive development, school readiness, learning performance and life opportunities.
Bangladesh suffers multiple consequences of malnutrition. 28% of children are chronically malnourished and 1 in 10 children suffers from acute malnutrition, notes a press release.
"Shorno Chef is about helping adolescents make healthy and nutritious food choices by conveying the fun of cooking and joy of healthy eating. Sadly, many adolescents do not have the option to eat enough nutritious food, and others consume too much unhealthy food. In the end, it is a balanced diet that adolescents also enjoy eating that will help them grow to their full potential," said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative to Bangladesh.
The programme also encourages healthier cooking fuels such as electricity or cooking gas instead of firewood.
"The Clean Cooking Alliance is happy to partner with UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh to help youth learn more about the benefits of clean cooking, which can improve the health of millions of young people around the world," said Asna Towfiq, policy manager with the Clean Cooking Alliance.
"Educating and empowering youth as changemakers and innovators is essential to advancing access to clean cooking. We wish the show and the amazing participants all the success in their journey," she added.