What started as a side hustle in response to fussy eating habits has bloomed into a culinary career shaping Sheffield communities. Viki Garbett, a nutritional coach and cooking teacher, started Twiddle Food in 2019. Her passion for healthy eating made fun has seen her take the business from small workshops to full-scale school demonstrations and cookery classes. She’s even welcomed Janusz Domagala from the Great British Bake Off on her chocolate roll making workshop! And now, she wants to help more in the community with her approach to culinary medicine and nutritional education.
Viki started Twiddle Food in March 2019. Her daughter at the time had developed some difficult eating habits. Viki wanted to improve her daughter’s nutrition and get her involved in the cooking process. Pasta was her first step. While many parents hide vegetables in the sauce, Viki took a different approach, making colourful pasta variations packed with herbs, vegetables, and fruit powders. Not only do the vibrant colours look great, which kids love, but they also make the pasta healthier. The pasta was a success, and it inspired Viki to start fresh, pasta-making workshops for private parties, team-building events and clubs like Beavers, Brownies and Rainbows.
The idea was to show people how easy it could be to make fresh pasta from scratch and share ideas on using staple ingredients in new and sometimes unusual ways. The first year was a great success, but like many organisations in 2020, the business had to evolve. Viki faced her own health issues and, lacking support from her doctors, decided to learn about nutrition and put her health and diet in her hands. She retrained as a nutrition coach and specialised in culinary medicine.
She said of that period,
“The more I learnt about nutrition and health, the more I wanted to share this with others and build it into my business. It has become more than just helping myself and my family, especially seeing all the health complications COVID has brought to us. Building community is so important, and I am really proud that my local community asks me for advice on their diet.”
Today, having left her job in March 2023 to focus on Twiddle food full-time, Viki now offers healthy cooking classes, school demonstrations and educational seminars. She focuses on healthy eating, tackling obesity and food education. It’s about bitesize, digestible (no pun intended) information everyone can understand. From children to adults, we all deserve to know how food affects our physical and mental health. In Sheffield, more than 1 in 5 children are overweight when they start school (ages 4-5), increasing to 1 in 3 by the time they reach Year 6 (ages 10-11). Food education is a vital part of tackling this, and workshops like the ones Twiddle Food provide create a fun environment that helps build skills and knowledge.
Twiddle Food also offer one-to-one nutritional coaching, helping people with their health goals and eating habits holistically. Learning how to cook and understanding your diet can help you boost your health and maintain a healthy weight long-term. Home cooking is often the key to this, and there are many social and personal benefits to cooking from scratch as well. Like all other skills, you can gain pride and personal development in achieving mastery. But it’s not just the practical skill that is great for your mind; cooking is an enjoyable hobby that many find relaxing. There is also the bonus of sharing this skill with loved ones, cooking delicious meals, treats and surprises for people in your life. The coaching Twiddle Food provides is just one way Sheffield folk can take control of their health.
For Viki, it’s not just about the methods in her business; she practices what she preaches at home, too. Inspired by her work with schools, Viki says,
“ I have also started teaching my daughters to cook in a more structured way. We do this at least once a week. I have been sharing this on my social media and newsletter and had many responses from parents telling me they started doing it and how proud their children were when they cooked a meal with them. It is great to see how my content can inspire other families.”
She’s also started growing vegetables and fruit in their family garden, involving her children. She considers it essential to show them where food comes from and the work it involves to grow, hopefully inspiring a deeper appreciation of food and not wasting it. She’s continued this practice in her workshops, always considering food waste in the classes and sharing ideas on reducing waste, recipes to use leftovers, and tips on how to freeze and preserve ingredients.
For those who want a memorable cooking experience, Twiddle Food offers cooking experiences for making Italian and Hungarian pasta and chocolate bonbons. These courses make an excellent gift or a great day out. For companies, the Twiddle Food team-building experience offers cooking sessions for organisations either on-site or at La Mama restaurant this December for Christmas staff dos.
Of course, ShefFood would love to see this level of food education in schools and kids clubs around the city, so If you’d like a cooking or bread demonstration, we’d encourage parents and teachers to contact Viki at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit: www.twiddlefood.co.uk
ShefFood is the food partnership for Sheffield. For more information, visit sheffood.org.uk