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My twin girls that turned 12 in September have been asking me to take a cooking class forever. I guess all the snuggle times watching Chopped, Chopped Junior, MasterChef, and MasterChef Junior has helped them to catch the cooking bug. So for the past few months, I have had them helping me around the kitchen as little sous chefs, but they became bored and wanted a “real cooking class”. So after tons of research and checking out different types of cooking classes I came across Young Chefs Academy. I saw that they were opening in New City and wanted to give them a try.
We went to the Senior Chef class (they have several classes for different age groups). This was a great class taught by Chefs Tina and Briana. The kids in the class learned all about Thanksgiving leftovers and what to do with them (something us parents could use too). On the menu was Chicken Tortilla Soup, Jicama Slaw and Guacamole.
Chef Tina started the class with the basic rules of cooking – Mise En Place (Read it, Place it, Create it). The girls were taught how to hold their fingers when using a knife to chop items so your fingers are not harmed. A great little life lesson and a great starting point. As the kids are chopping and getting everything ready to add in the pot, they continue to read the instructions for the Chicken Tortilla soup, work as a team to get everything ready and start to cook. Chef Tina went over a great tip on how to check to see if the oil in a pan is ready to add the tortilla strips to fry. T After everything was added (chicken gets added later), the kids were told to make sure to let the soup simmer, but to continue to stir the soup, remembering to “scrape” the bottom of the pot to pick up all the yummy flavors the tend to settle.
While to soup cooks, the kids start the jicama slaw. Chef Tina asked if anyone has ever had jicama, and went over its origin, the health benefits and what type of vegetable it is (a root vegetable from Mexico, and unlike a sweet potato you can not eat the skin). Chef Tina and Chef Briana already shredded the jicama and the carrots to help save some time. The kids work on juicing the lime, and learn all about how to get the most juice out of the lime. The kids learn about picking the cilantro off the stalk, Many tricks that were taught, I personally found super helpful and can’t wait to use.
Once the kids add all the rest of the ingredients and dress the slaw, it’s time to make the guacamole. The twins had a blast with this part of the lesson. The best part for them was squeezing the avocado out of its shell. Once again Chef Tina gives them some great pointers in how to keep the avocado from turning brown and staying fresh for later use.
The soup simmered for 30 minutes and was then blended to make it smooth. The kids work on shredding the chicken, and add it into the soup.
WOW – all this preparation really made the kids work up an appetite – and smelling the food cooking, makes you want to taste the end results. Well Young Chef’s students do just that. Once they have finished (and wash their hands) they get to taste the fruits of their labors!
And let me tell you did we enjoy everything. Everything was yummy, and we even learned about more ways to tweak our recipes (in case they were too spicy, or salty). Each kid received a hard copy of the recipe to place in their Young Chef Academy recipe binder for later use. After class, we barely made it into the car before the twins asked to go back for more classes. Now with the winter around the corner, this is a better idea for my kids than watching tv, or playing video games. We can not wait for January to sign up for more classes!!
The girls liked learning new things as well as the opportunity to feel “grown up”. I loved that they are learning practical life skills, reinforcing mathematics rules, and beginning a journey into feeling accomplished and independent. We are a family that cooks together, it’s a part of our culture, the academy reinforces these things that are so important in our family dynamic,
For more information on Young Chef’s Academy, the types of classes they offer, specialty classes, mini camps and lessons, and even birthday parties, check out their webpage: http://newcityny.youngchefsacademy.com/. Like them on FaceBook for amazin specials and upcoming events at https://www.facebook.com/newcityyca/. You can always call them at 845-638-0601.