Me and Cooking Club go way back. All the way back to 1998, when one of my best friends, Nick Eaton, and I started a cooking club with the generous help of my mother. Here is a shot of the CCHS Culinary Club of Canton, Ohio, in 2000. Nick and I reunite this May to cook together!
Now, in 2014, here I am again, cooking with high school age kids, and loving it.
This week I got to cook alongside the cooking club of the David Douglas High School here in Portland, helping a team of students prepare a meal in an hour as a “Chopped” style competition to lead into their spring break.
Though my team came in second out of two teams due to our presentation (hey, I was letting the kids lead the way!) it was a close second, only 1/2 a point behind. The idea was not to determine a true winner, but to truly engage the students in the art and fun of cooking for a purpose. Here is the other chef, Alex, finishing his group’s plate while my group of four watches and readies to enjoy their meal, which won for creativity:)
It continues to surprise me how joyful these experiences are, cooking with the high school age group. I recall how mind-blowing some of the cooking club sessions were for me as a teenager, and how clearly they influenced my confidence, ability, and willingness to experiment in the kitchen for years to come. Here the judges taste both presented plates, below.
My hope its that each time I cook with this age group, at least one kid is inspired to instigate cooking with their parents, or siblings, or friends. And that this spark might grow into a lifelong interest in cooking for and with loved ones, for health, and for the joy it brings to the spirit of life overall.
Next up: The Portland Community Kitchen Family Style supper on the first day of Spring!
Here is the meal my time created: Spicy Honey Stewed Chicken, Stir-Fried Asparagus, Kale, and Carrots with Ginger and Garlic, and a Rice and Lentil dish. Our meal was naturally gluten, dairy and soy free without my planning! One student, Jared, even made a pumpkin pudding using peanut butter, honey, raisins and pumpkin as a dairy free dessert. Such creativity for such a cool bunch of young kids. I look forward to the next time:)