What Are Jr. Chef Classes?
“Jr. Chef classes are to encourage children to cook and teach them necessary life skills,” Kristen DeBoard says of the Jr. Chef classes she teaches in the Williamson area. Kristin works for the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, which offers healthy-cooking classes for adults on a monthly basis. She saw the need to introduce a similar class for kids in the area. “It was a goal of mine last summer, to keep kids around here, and have affordable activities for them as well,” says Kristen. In the Summer of 2018, she started teaching Jr. Chef classes. She describes it as a way to teach kids to make food they already like, in a healthier way. Those first classes included healthy pepperoni rolls and biscuits and gravy. She plans all of their lessons herself and is assisted by Maria Arnot.
“Kids are hands-on learners, and I have a passion for helping kids find food they love, and seeing their face when they realize they like something,” Kristin says. “There’s little to no nutrition education in schools, so it’s important to me.”
A Mardi Gras Celebration
On March 4th, 2019 the classes celebrated Mardi Gras. The Jr. Chef Mardi Gras class featured a ten-minute lesson on the traditions of Mardi Gras. Then, the students began their recipe: a healthier version of the traditional King-Cake baked for Mardi Gras celebrations. A King Cake is usually made with cream cheese, cinnamon, and a sugar-heavy icing. For this class, the recipe was made healthier by using crescent-roll dough and using a light cream cheese. The amount of sugar in the icing was also cut in half. This class was their most successful yet, with 22 students attending, and 15 college students volunteering to help.
Helping Kids Be Healthier In 2019
The plans for Jr. Chef classes in 2019 are just getting started. A two-day nutrition and fitness camp is planned for late March, with activities like relay races and games to help kids identify foods on the agenda. In April, there will be a class on healthy bread-baking, and there are already plans for classes about fresh produce in late spring.