Sofia Larrinua: The woman who teaches Finsbury families how to cook for 50p

Sofia Larrinua, manager of Central Street Cookery School. Picture: Sofia Larrinua

Sofia Larrinua, manager of Central Street Cookery School. Picture: Sofia Larrinua - Credit: Archant

From an early dementia service to its “community fridge” tackling food waste, St Luke’s Community Centre does amazing work for its people in the south of Islington.

Sofia Larrinua’s Central Street Cookery School is another example. In the six years since it formed at St Luke’s, it has hosted 800 cheap classes helping 19,000 people.

Sofia, who manages the school, said: “The St Luke’s chief executive wanted a cookery school as a focus for bringing people together. He said to me: ‘This is the room, now give me a business plan.’ It was very exciting.”

Sofia’s plan was simple: hire out the kitchen privately – for photoshoots, product launches, private classes and even hen parties – and use the proceeds to fund low-cost community classes for people with an EC1 postcode.

Her plan has worked out pretty well.

Every week, the school holds regular classes. On Wednesday nights, for example, there is a class for children and their parents for just 50p. And once a month, it hosts an over-55s baking club for £2.

Sofia has also put on specialist classes, like the one for unemployed people to help them find work in the catering industry, and another for people with diabetes.

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Before taking on the cookery school, Sofia had spent 27 years in the food industry, having trained as a food scientist in her native Mexico. But she said Central Street has been the most satisfying project: “Lots of local people benefit from this.

“The classes for children and parents have been very popular. I have seen children here from the very beginning in 2012, at five years old. Now, at 11, their approach to food has changed, and they are confident people.

“Older people also love the classes. Some may have been socially isolated, and many come to make friends. The cookery school has become like an extended family for them.

“I want to bring the joy of cooking to everyone. I would rate my enjoyment of this role at 11 out of 10! It’s very satisfying when you see people mastering what they are doing, and having fun while doing it.”

For more information about Central Street Cookery School and to get involved, visit

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