My name is Paula Megale and I work as a chef at the Department of Culture and Tourism in São Paulo, Brazil. I teach people about good nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and also give advice and guidance on what I believe is the world’s best food: breast milk.
Cooking from an early age
I made my first recipe when I was six years old: a cake for my dog’s first birthday. My mom was by my side while I baked and always encouraged me to cook. From that day on, I loved watching cooking shows and trying out lots of different recipes and discovered that cooking was a talent that I wanted to develop and share with the world.
My brother introduced me to Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows when I was 12 years old – I can still remember him saying “This guy cooks very well, watch him and use him as your reference”. I never liked the most exquisite foods, but love, like Jamie, the taste of a colorful, decent, home-cooked meal. After watching several episodes of his shows, I started dreaming of the possibility that one day my own recipes might be noticed by him.
Leading by example
Becoming a Food Revolution ambassador has been a great joy and a personal accomplishment – it is amazing to be part of such a beautiful project. I know that, together, by promoting the benefits of healthy eating and good home-cooked food, we can change the lives of so many people around the world.
Spreading the Food Revolution message
I currently host two Food Revolution events per month, in libraries across the city of São Paulo. Demand is high and I’m pleased to always be welcoming more students. During the events, we talk with children and their parents about the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. I explain the history of Jamie’s Food Revolution, and also talk about obesity, malnutrition, and diseases caused by having a bad diet. I also encourage parents to cook with their kids, to create bonding and to help them discover new flavours and culinary skills.
While we cook, we talk about the foods that are good and bad food for our health. We also talk about the sugar excess we consume daily and how too much sugar has become a great villain in children’s lives that we need to fight together. I like to let the children create and cut vegetables and fruits as they see fit, which I believe is very important to stimulate their creativity .
Children experiencing the beauty of nature
Then we go the local museum, where we’ve been given space to maintain a small community garden. The contact with earth and the opportunity to play and run around is great for the children and I find that they are very happy to be in touch with nature – something that, unfortunately, is becoming increasingly rare.
When it’s rainy, we paint vegetable rainbows and while we paint, we talk about all the different kinds of fruits and vegetables. I’ve also been developing complementary activities that help with balance and wellbeing, such as physical activities, reading and games. It’s important that kids take a break from social networks, video games and computers to live a healthier life.
At the end of the classes, each child receives a handout with the recipe we made and its benefits, and they receive seeds and tips on how to plant and grow their own garden.
I am very happy to be part of the global Food Revolution, as it allows me to share my love of food with so many children in São Paulo. I want to continue to give my best and bring joy and knowledge to many more children across the city to help them and their families live healthier lives.