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IELTS Speaking Topic: Cooking

In past lessons, we’ve learned how to talk about food for IELTS. Food is one of those rather predictable IELTS topics that often pops up in part one of the speaking exam. Usually, you will see it in part one, but it can also appear in parts two or three as well. I’ve also seen food in the reading exam and even the writing task 2. Today, though, we’re going beyond the general topic of food to look more specifically at cooking. Food is going to test your vocabulary in terms of nouns and adjectives, but cooking brings in a range of verbs, as well as some new nouns. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to talk about cooking for IELTS speaking.

Vocabulary

First up, you will want to build a good IELTS cooking vocabulary. Fortunately, I made a handy PPT to help you learn. You can click the link below and download it in order to get the best use. You will see a picture (sometimes a moving GIF) and you can guess at the word. When you click right, it will tell you the vocabulary and give a definition.

You should learn these words in context by looking for examples online. Try watching some cooking shows on YouTube for a little free practice, and pay attention to how the speaker explains what he or she is doing.

Questionseclairs 300x200 - IELTS Speaking Topic: Cooking

Part One

In this section, you will be asked some short questions. You should try to reply in just a few sentences. Don’t try to talk for too long. I will give you some example answers below:

 

What are some things that you can cook?

  • I know how to cook many things, including desserts and savoury foods. I mostly cook pasta or rice, though.

Do you like cooking?

  • To be honest, no, I don’t really enjoy cooking. I find it to be a chore and I get tired of making a meal every day.

How often do you cook?

  • I cook three meals a day because where I live it is simply too expensive to go out to eat and I have no one else to cook for me.

What dish are you best at cooking?

  • I’m probably best at cooking vegetarian dishes because I grew up in a veggie household, but I’m not a vegetarian myself and I know how to make a decent roast chicken.

Does anyone in your family like to cook?

  • Yeah, my dad loves to cook. He doesn’t work on weekends and so you’ll often find him in the kitchen, experimenting with some recipe he saw online.

Do your parents know how to cook?

  • Both my parents can cook pretty well. They take it turns to prepare dinner for the family.

Do you think that it’s important to know how to cook well?

  • I think it’s a really important life skill that children should learn when they are young. Being able to cook allows you to live a healthy life without relying on junk food and other snacks.

Who is the best cook you know? family cook 300x200 - IELTS Speaking Topic: Cooking

  • I have a friend who works as a chef in a fancy restaurant. She is probably the best cook that I know because she’s professionally trained.

What cooking experience have you had?

  • I learned to cook when I was about ten years old. My mum taught me, and we often baked together in the kitchen after school. Nowadays I still enjoy cooking and baking.

Who taught you to cook?

  • Everyone in my family can cook and we all learned from our parents. In the school holidays, we’d get together and make big meals with everyone preparing something, so I learned that way.

When you were a child, did you ever help your parents to prepare a meal?

  • Oh yeah, we had to get involved. In my house, you had to do chores and help out in many different ways. It wasn’t a choice! But it was fun and I really remember those times fondly.

How good are you at cooking?

  • I think I’m pretty good, but I could never be a professional chef. I can make lots of basic things and they taste alright, but I’m far from an expert.

Part Two

Here’s a cue card from the IELTS speaking part 2 on the topic of cooking:

Describe someone you know who is a good cook.

You should say:mother cooking 300x205 - IELTS Speaking Topic: Cooking

  •  Who this person is
  •  How you know him or her
  •  What kinds of food he/she cooks

and explain why this person is good at cooking.

And this is my sample answer:

My mum is definitely the best cook that I know, although most people in my family can cook pretty well. She knows lots of different recipes and is always trying new ones that she sees on cooking shows or reads about in magazines. She was taught how to cook by her mother, my grandmother, when she was a little girl, and she taught me. We used to cook together but now we live pretty far apart. Still, I sometimes get to go home and try her dishes.

She cooks all sorts of different foods. I’m not sure what she’s best at because everyone would have a different opinion, but I really like the stuff she bakes. Everyone in my family has a bit of a sweet tooth* and she tends to do a lot of baking and desserts. However, she also makes things like pasta and lately she’s gotten into cooking Mexican food, which I just love.

I think what makes her so good at cooking is that she really cares about it and also that she learned the fundamentals when she was very young, so she can easily adapt to do new things. For these reasons, she can always whip up** something really delicious for a special occasion.

*sweet tooth means to have a passion for sweet foods

**whip up means to prepare something quickly

Here’s another one for you:

Talk about a dish you know how to cook.

You should say:

  • what ingredients are required to cook it
  • where you learned it from
  • how you cook this dish

and tell if this is an easy dish to cook or not.

And my sample answer: focaccia with olives and rosemary 300x199 - IELTS Speaking Topic: Cooking

One dish that I know how to cook is rosemary bread. I love baking and this is one of the best breads that I know how to make, so I make it quite often when I know I’ll have friends come over. I think I learned it about six years ago after I grew a big rosemary bush.

It’s pretty simple to make, actually. The most important ingredients are flour and rosemary, as you might imagine. Of course, you also need yeast, water, and a little salt. You could add some additional herbs or maybe some butter, too. I don’t remember the quantities required because I usually refer to a recipe whenever I’m baking.

You need to mix the yeast and water and leave them for a while, and then you pretty much just combine all the ingredients together in a big plastic bowl and mix them until they form a dough. At that point, you’ll have to knead the dough with your hands for five minutes. You then leave it for an hour to rise before putting it into the oven and baking for about a quarter of an hour.

I’d say this is a pretty easy dish to cook but just make sure that you get the ingredients in the right quantities or the texture will be all wrong!

I have even recorded this one and add it to YouTube! Skip ahead to 13:54 if you want to skip the vocab lesson and hear my sample answer.

Part Three

These questions will require longer answers than part one but shorter than part two, and you will have no time to prepare. Pay attention to the question and make sure you answer it directly without straying off-topic.

Do you think children should help their parents prepare meals?

  • Yeah, I really think it’s important for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a great opportunity for parents and children to bond. Cooking is a wholesome, important activity that can bring a family together. Additionally, it’s something that can help a child later in life and so learning it at an early age is very useful.

What are some of the advantages to families cooking together?

  • Cooking together can forge deeper relationships between people. It requires patience and communication, and is an opportunity for wisdom to flow from one generation to the next. Children should not grow up thinking that food magically appears; rather, they should help in the preparation. It’s something beneficial for them, but also enjoyable.

In modern society, is it important that people still learn to cook?

  • These days, people don’t really need to cook but it is still useful for them to learn. We can go out to restaurants or order take-out, but cooking will always remain an important skill. It is something humans have done since the beginning of time, and forgetting it would be denying our nature. Moreover, knowing how to cook can allow you to have more control over your diet.

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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