Meet Life Kitchen: The free cooking classes for people undergoing Chemotherapy

For people with cancer, its treatment often comes  with a range of side effects which can be extremely debilitating. One of the lesser known side effects is loss of taste. Many people undergoing chemo  suddenly find they can not enjoy the foods they usually do, or find that all food is tasting the same or that they cannot taste anything at all.

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Ryan Riley, a food writer and stylist who used to live in Streatham Common, lost his mom Krista to lung cancer when he was just 20-years-old. Three years on and Ryan is setting up Life Kitchen — a free cookery school that aims to offer a solution to the 50% of chemotherapy patients who experience a loss or change of taste.

 

What is Life Kitchen?


Life Kitchen is a charity initiative that will provide free cookery classes to people living with cancer and their families. The recipes  will focus on flavour and classes will be delivered by top food writers and chefs. At the moment, Chantelle Nicholson of Treadwell's (the restaurant owned by Masterchef judge Marcus Wareing) is the patron of the charity and helping deliver the first classes and devise the recipes.

Photo credit: gofundme.com/lifekitchen



Chef Chantelle will devise recipes that can enhance the flavour of food and help mask any metallic tastes. She is already developing a seasoning with green chili, sesame oil, palm sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, and roasted peanuts (known as a fighting cancer foods) that could be used as a topping for anything from fish to chicken and salad. It's about things that are going to have a really big impact on flavour and are versatile.

Also, they’re working with Macmillan Cancer Support to let people know about the classes, and to get appropriate nutritional information for their menus. The project is still in early stages right now, but one of things they want to do is to have a website, where they can post the menu online, so that, the people can pick and choose what classes they want to get a ticket to.


 How The Idea of Life Kitchen Came Out?


When Ryan was 18-years-old, his mother found out she had cancer. It was very shocking and the worst time for him and his family. He spent the next two years looking after her and was her primary carer. He experienced firsthand of all the problems she faced (like her losing her hair and the depression that comes with getting a terminal illness). Even though the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy were going to prolong her life, they weren't ever going to cure her.

In an interview, Ryan said: “My mum also lost her sense of taste. You eat so many times a day and knowing that flavours would be dulled for the remainder of her life, made it a really depressing time.”

Photo credit: gofundme.com/lifekitchen



“My family didn't know then what to do and how best to support her. I wasn't in the food industry, I was young, and I was trying to cope with her diagnosis myself, as well as trying to look after her. We were just cooking the normal food that we always cooked and when we'd go out for meals, nothing was ever good enough—not because she felt it wasn't good food, but just because her sense of taste was dulled.”

Nowadays, Ryan is a trained cook, with hundreds of hours in professional test kitchens under his belt. Also, Ryan Riley’s work has appeared in Waitrose Food and Sainsbury’s Magazine, as well as in numerous cookbooks and television advertisements. The experience he had with his mother prompted him to develop the Life Kitchen project.

 

Does the taste really change when you are on chemo?


Cancer and its treatments can change the way some foods taste or smell. Food may taste bitter or metallic, or may not have as much flavour as before. Taste changes can contribute to a loss of appetite (anorexia), weight loss and malnutrition. Taste changes may also be called taste blindness, hypogeusia (decrease in taste), dysgeusia (altered taste) or ageusia (loss of all taste).

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According to several oncologists, taste changes can be caused by different cancer treatments and their side effects. Dry mouth, damage to the nerves involved in tasting, mouth infections, nausea and vomiting, and dental or gum disease can also have an effect on the way food tastes.

Also, a review published in 2009 in The Journal of Supportive Oncology, slightly more than two-thirds (68 percent) of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy reported a change in sensory perception, including a reduction or loss in taste sensitivities or a metallic taste in the mouth. Another 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Oncologist found that nearly 70 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy reported an altered sense of taste.

 

 Where Can You Go to Take The Life Kitchen Classes?


Life Kitchen doesn’t have a physical space yet, however, according to the their Twitter Account, the first free cooking class, will be this August! So, you have to be very aware of your social networks to known more about this classes.

Photo credit: Pinterest



Ryan has also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the initial £10,000 needed to establish Life Kitchen, and has already won the support of notable names in the world of food and drink with his innovative project. The fantastic project has already received high-profile support from Nigella Lawson, Grace Dent and Jay Rayner – to name just a few. So, if you want to help, you can go to gofundme.com/LifeKitchen and make a donative.

Summary


Key Takeaways



  • For people with cancer, its treatment often comes a range of side effects which can be extremely debilitating. One of the lesser known side effects is loss of taste.

  • Ryan Riley, a food writer and stylist who used to live in Streatham Common, lost his mom Krista to lung cancer when he was just 20-years-old.

  • Three years on and Ryan is setting up Life Kitchen — a free cookery school that aims to offer a solution to the 50% of chemotherapy patients who experience a loss or change of taste.


What is Life Kitchen?



  • Life Kitchen is a charity initiative that will provide free cookery classes to people living with cancer and their families.

  • The recipes will focus on flavour and classes will be delivered by top food writers and chefs.

  • They’re working with Macmillan Cancer Support to let people know about the classes, and to get appropriate nutritional information for their menus.

  • The project is still in early stages right now, but one of things they want to do is to have a website, where they can post the menu online, so that, the people can pick and choose what classes they want to get a ticket to.


How The Idea of Life Kitchen Came Out?



  • When Ryan was 18-years-old, his mother found out she had cancer. It was very  shocking and the worst time for him and his family.

  • He spent the next two years looking after her and was her primary carer. He experienced firsthand of all the problems she faced (like her losing her hair and the depression that comes with getting a terminal illness).

  • Even though the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy were going to prolong her life, they weren't ever going to cure her.

  • Nowadays, Ryan is a trained cook, with hundreds of hours in professional test kitchens under his belt. The experience he had with his mother prompted him to develop the Life Kitchen project.


Does the taste really change when you are on chemo?



  • Cancer and its treatments can change the way some foods taste or smell. Food may taste bitter or metallic, or may not have as much flavour as before.

  • Taste changes can contribute to a loss of appetite (anorexia), weight loss and malnutrition. Taste changes may also be called taste blindness; hypogeusia (decrease in taste), dysgeusia (altered taste) or ageusia (loss of all taste).

  • A review published in 2009 in The Journal of Supportive Oncology said; that slightly more than two-thirds (68 percent) of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy reported a change in sensory perception; including a reduction or loss in taste sensitivities or a metallic taste in the mouth. (see full study)

  • Another 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Oncologist found that nearly 70 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy reported an altered sense of taste. (see full study)


Where Can You Go to Take The Life Kitchen Classes?



  • Life Kitchen doesn’t have a physical space yet, however, according to the their Twitter Account, the first free cooking class, will be this August! So, you have to be very aware of your social networks to known more about this classes.

  • Ryan has also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the initial £10,000 needed to establish Life Kitchen, and has already won the support of notable names in the world of food and drink with his innovative project.

  • So, if you want to help, you can go to gofundme.com/LifeKitchen and make a donative.




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