Elementary school students in Hillsborough County brushed up on their culinary skills during the district’s first Future Chefs Cooking Camp. The week-long event was held at The Center for Nutrition & Culinary Services.
The goal was not only to give students the tools they need to cook their own food. Instructors also wanted to give them an education in nutrition to learn what types of foods to eat to stay healthy.
“Every single involvement the child has in the cooking process, the more inclined they are to eat their fruits and vegetables. We had so many kids this week who were a little on the picky side, weren’t excited about cooking or trying new foods. As soon as they started preparing those foods themselves they were eating it and gobbling it up,” said Nutrition Coordinator Shaun Sawko.
Sawko says what the student chefs learned this week will broaden their horizons when it comes to trying new culinary creations.
Student chef Amiyah Muhommed says learning from District Chef Tom Mims, who also taught the campers, made her confident enough to learn how to use a knife properly.
“We learned how to cut, peel, and make smoothies and use a melon baller,” Muhommed said.
Amiyah says she thinks she may want to be a chef when she grows up.
“We make sure that they know when they are cooking, they’re a chef. Having that title, there’s a responsibility to it. It’s tasting everything you make, and making sure when you do present a dish to somebody that you love, or are wanting to do something good for, that it’s the best you have to give,” said Mims.
Mims says the goal is to expand the program next year to add more days, but it will still be a smaller camp because of its hands-on nature.
At the end of the camp, students received chef certificates and presented their own culinary dishes to their parents.