By Chef Tracy Turi ~
Lunch Break’s new “Cooking with My Hero” virtual class series showcases children engaging in the creative culinary process with someone they love and admire. The weekly series consists of one-hour Zoom cooking classes alternating with short youth-driven cooking demonstrations. The videos are available on the Lunch Break NJ YouTube channel.
“Cooking With My Hero” is designed to inspire children to make a recipe with someone they love and also highlights fun, creative cooking tips and trends and ways to economize in the kitchen. Children love to cook — even the picky eaters — because they love to create. They also enjoy demonstrating their independence and self-reliance.
What makes Cooking with My Hero so special? Heroes, first and foremost. Children need their heroes and cooking is a great way for children to connect with their family and their community. Heroes help inspire the community and teach our children important values: a good work ethic and simply how to be. Sometimes a child’s hero is a loved one, a grandparent or a sibling. Perhaps it’s a friend, neighbor, teacher, or a nurse living in the neighborhood who works at a local hospital. Heroes offer that extra hand and the guidance and the wisdom, comfort, and joy that comes from engaging with children.
Sadly, since March, friends and loved ones have limited access to each other, particularly elderly relatives, who have been cloistered, sometimes far away from family. This is a great opportunity for children to learn new skills, commune with others, in spite of the limitations. At the end of the day, it’s all about gathering together as a community and with family, to sustain and nourish each other, particularly our children, over honest, homemade food.
Just as vital, children can learn beneficial cooking skills that prepare them for adulthood, beginning with the three important precepts of a well-run kitchen: Be clean, be safe, be precise. They will also learn how to economize In the kitchen when certain ingredients are scarce. Creative fun and a little food science are another plus.
Two weeks ago Diamond and her mom made pizza. Recently Ashley and Morgan made Swedish apple pie with their Grammy. And for Lunch Break’s first cooking demonstration, Diamond shows us how to make homemade ricotta by using milk that’s about to expire, vinegar, and salt and adding heat.
In many ways, these past few months have been all about adapting to change, learning self-reliance and scrounging to make the most of what’s left in the pantry. Families have been connecting over meals: maybe it’s over a stack of pancakes at breakfast or an uncomplicated skillet pasta at dinner. More families are eating together every night, sometimes for the first time ever. Some children might even be making their own meals every day. Culinary skills teach real-life skills. Be clean, be safe, be precise, and don’t forget to have fun!
Lunch Break freely provides food, clothing, fellowship and life skills to those struggling financially in Monmouth County and beyond. For more information visit www.lunchbreak.org. Follow Lunch Break on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Give local, stays local. #whywebreak #givelocal
Chef Tracy Turi has a Master’s in Education and a Grand Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts from The International Culinary Center in Manhattan. She is a food stylist, recipe developer and culinary educator, teaching culinary classes to children, adults and dietitians. She also remains involved in numerous community organizations. She is a former judge for the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant Committee, Mid-Atlantic Region and the Specialty Food Association’s Sofi Awards.
Photo credits- Lunch Break- cover photo Junior Chef Diamond and her master pizza!