TWO years ago celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opened the doors to his Ministry of Food in Ipswich, tackling the city's battle of the bulge head-on.
Since then more than 1800 people have taken classes to learn how to cook the healthy, tasty meals with which Jamie Oliver made his name.
Jamie's Ministry of Food Australia chief executive officer Alicia Peardon said a lack of time and confidence in the kitchen led to would-be cooks opting for less healthy meals.
"We are finding that a lot of people who do our course can cook to some extent, but they don't enjoy cooking simply because they have a fear of failure or they believe it's a waste of time," she said.
"The good news is we can help. We've received loads of letters from our past participants thanking us for giving them the skills, knowledge and, most of all, confidence to try something new."
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said residents had embraced the Ministry of Food and he encouraged others to do the same.
He said signs of improvement could be seen in the West Moreton Hospital and Health Services' Self-Reported Health Status report, which showed obesity figures in Ipswich were improving.
"It's great to see Ipswich residents taking control of their lives and ultimately the health of their family," Cr Pisasale said.
"We must maintain our aim to be one of the healthiest communities in Australia and Jamie's Ministry of Food is playing a significant role in helping us achieve our goal.
"I encourage anyone that needs a little bit of inspiration to eat smarter and to start cooking again to have a go at this program. There really is something in it for everyone."
Jamie's Ministry of Food Ipswich delivers a 10-week basic cooking course. The cost is $10 per class or $5 for concession holders. Participants take home what they cook.
For bookings visit jamiesministryoffood.com or drop into the centre, d'Arcy Doyle Place, 116 Brisbane St, Ipswich.
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