Learning the art of cooking: Bosque Arts Center’s Culinary Club hosts Culinary Camp for youthful cooks creating delicious dishes
CLIFTON – The trays in the kitchen were filled with everything from fresh vanilla beans and mint to uncured chorizo, to ripe mangos, coconut cream and dark cocoa. The fridge was brimming with tomatoes, raspberries, basil, carrots, cucumbers, radishes and heavy cream. It was a veritable cornucopia of food stuffs waiting to be prepared into delicious dishes.
Last week in the afternoons, the Bosque Arts Center commercial kitchen was filled with dedicated volunteers and 11 youth eager to improve their culinary skills with mousse’s, gelee’s, pickling, and melting chocolate au bain marie. After graduating from last year’s very first, successful Culinary Club summer camp, many youth returned to this year’s, more challenging culinary camp that included recipes from the Master Chef Junior cookbook.
In 2021, the youthful cooks showed their interest in the culinary arts from helping out at home and watching food shows on television, like Master Chef Junior. This inspired the BAC Culinary Club President Virginia Richards to up the ante, and challenge the youth with some more ambitious recipes.
The elaborate, multi-step recipes didn’t faze the young chefs though. With the guidance from teen helpers Blake Barrett and Caroline Belknap and Culinary Club volunteers, every day the youth learned new skills and tried new ingredients.
The culinary camp week started with the basics – kitchen and food hygiene from AgriLife Extension Office’s Chris Coons and the oh-so-important knife skills from the ever-engaging Chef Oz. Chef Oz, former TSTC culinary arts teacher Michael Osbourne, introduced some French “cheffy” cooking terms like mirepoix, rondelle, pison, brunnoise, chiffonade, oblique and concassé. Osbourne now teaches culinary arts at University High School.
Right after Chef Oz’s demo, the kids were more than ready to tackle the pickled vegetable challenge – making fancy cucumber rondelles, wrestling with those pesky round radishes and attacked those hard carrots into submission.
And because of some dietary restrictions, during the week the youth adapted recipes.
Hunter enjoyed making the corn succotash, mainly because he like chorizo. And of course the desserts like Lava cakes and Whoopie Pies were a success with all. Being of Norwegian heritage, the coconut rice pudding with mango compote reminded Richards of many rice-based sweet the Norwegians enjoy.
As the youth waited for jellies to stiffen or cakes to bake, they had fun playing games together.
On Friday, some of the dishes were served to family and friends at the grand finale when the kids transformed from chefs to hosts. After Richards explained to parents and caretakers what the kids had accomplished during the week, they all received their very own copy of the Master Chef Junior cookbook.
Thanks to generous donors, new chef’s knives and ingredients were bought. For Richards and her army of volunteers, the camp was as fun as it was tiring. But their satisfaction came out of watching the kids engage with the speakers, with each other, and how enthusiastic they were about cooking in general. And that the youth went home every day without cuts or burns.
Culinary Camp 2022 was another success, and all that rests to be said is “Bon Appetite,” “Eet Smakelijk,” “Nyt måltidet,” “Guten Appetit,” “Buon Appetito,” “Buen Provecho,” and “Smaklig Måltid,” when the pint-size chefs try out their newly acquired skills at home. And to wonder what theme the BAC Culinary Club will come up with next year.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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