While summer vacation for many kids means endless hours in front of a television or computer screen, one group of middle school children recently got the opportunity to live out their culinary dreams. In June, 11 kids took part in a five-day, four-night on-campus culinary camp held by Virginia Tech Dining Services. Those who took part got to learn the basics in cooking techniques, as well as instruction in food and kitchen safety, nutrition, food budgeting and dining etiquette.
Virginia Tech Dining Services Training and Project Coordinator Jessica Filip says the event was an opportunity to teach kids how to make better food choices by showing how easy and fun it can be to prepare their own meals. “Dining Services’ goal was for the participants to learn preparation of food, the joy of cooking and ultimately retain what they learned for a lifetime,” Filip says. “The program was designed for the campers to come away stimulated and confident in using their newfound knowledge and share it with their families.”
Filip says the idea for the camp began when Ted Faulkner, director of Virginia Tech’s Dining Services, suggested the department hold a summertime activity where kids could learn about the culinary arts.
Program participants were taught how to do easy recipes, such as pizzas, ice cream and smoothies, which Filip says would not require special equipment or their parents’ help. Other activities included tours of the school’s local garden and dairy farm, as well as a visit to an area grocery store where chefs taught campers how to select fresh produce and meats.
On the last day of camp, students were able to apply the lessons they learned by catering a luncheon for their parents.
Having received positive feedback about this year’s program, Filip says plans are in the works for similar types of events to be held next year, with the possibility of a day camp as well as one where high school teens can receive more advance culinary training.