Kerry McCluskey has spent the last five years running the Mamaqtuq Cooking Club at Nanook elementary school in Apex. (Photo courtesy of Seporah Medwig)

Iqaluit author launches new cookbook for kids

Kerry McCluskey took five years of running the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club and turned it into Niam!

By Dustin Patar

When Kerry McCluskey stood in the entryway of Nanook elementary school in Apex about to host the first Mamaqtuq Cooking Club class, she was nervous. Last Friday, five years later, she stood in the very same spot celebrating the launch of Niam!—yum in Inuktitut—the cookbook inspired by the club.

“The book is for children who want to learn how to cook and for parents who want to work with their kids in the kitchen, but may not have kid-friendly cookbooks and may not know the skills, because it’s a real challenge when you first start working with kids,” said McCluskey.

But the cookbook isn’t necessarily just for families.

“It’s also for people in their communities that maybe want to do their own cooking club. In the book there’s a section that tells you how to go about doing that,” said McCluskey, who also noted that the recipes are all adaptable to whatever ingredients are available.

“If it’s country food and fresh herbs that you want and you have access to, great. If you don’t have access to that but you can get ground beef and dried oregano, great.”

A proud Imiqutaila Sparks shows off her slice of pizza after the first day of the Mamaqtuq Cooking Club. (Photo courtesy of Kerry McCluskey)

By the end of the first Mamaqtuq Cooking Club session, McCluskey’s nerves had been replaced by the joy of seeing her students’ reactions.

“It was this moment where they kind of got that rush of preparing the food and feeding people with it.”

Even during Friday night’s launch, surrounded by a frenzy of sugar-fuelled children, McCluskey said there’s a photo of one of her students, Imiqutaila Sparks, from the inaugural class that she thinks about a lot.

“You can see the pride in her face.”

That’s what McCluskey hopes the cookbook achieves.

“That is all that I want from this, that as many kids as possible get their hands on it , as many families as possible, and they get in the kitchen together and they have a lot of fun, because cooking really brings families together, and it’s a really good way to teach kids about being responsible for their lives, right?”

Copies of Niam! can be found locally at Arctic Ventures and Malikkaat or online through Amazon and Inhabit Media.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by 5408 on

    This is a great initiative for the kids in Apex. Congrats!

    Some kids really need this and it will pay off later in life. Eating only junk food and processed foods from an early age is so destructive.

    To all the adults out there who don’t know how to cook: learn. It might seem intimidating but it gets easier once you learn to make 1 or 2 meals. Ask someone for help or watch a YouTube cooking video.

    • Posted by INUK on

      My kid lives on Dorito, Pogo and Pepsi .

      • Posted by Sugar rush on

        Congrats I guess…

      • Posted by Sad Story on

        Dear INUK, I’m sorry to hear your kids are not being properly nourished.

  2. Posted by Charlotte on

    Well done, Kerry! You and your book are a ray of sunshine in our little town and I just want to send heartfelt congrats and thanks for your shared passion for cooking for kids and showing them how it’s done.

  3. Posted by Suzanne Laliberte on

    What a great idea Kerry, I know that your classes are very successful but a book will share your passion with much more people

    Only a passionate and generous person can do what you do.

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