Cooking Together at Jacob A. Riis Community Center

By July 26, 2018May 3rd, 2024Archive

This post was written by Liani Astacio, Communications Intern at The Sylvia Center and Prep for Prep scholar.

In Long Island City, Queens, our Teen Apprentices helped teach a cooking class to kids–ages five to seven years old. In this class, students learned how to make an Orzo Pasta Salad and fresh Lemonade from scratch. At the start of class, students rushed into the kitchen with enthusiasm, enthralled with all the features of their surroundings.

Theresa, the Community Chef Instructor, asked students to repeat the word orzo, and explained that although it looks like a grain, orzo is actually a variety of pasta. First, these young students were divided into two groups: one for making the lemonade and another for making the pasta salad. The lemonade group worked on squeezing lemons for lemon juice, carefully guided by their Teen Apprentices. The pasta salad group practiced knife skills with a butter knife, using the bear claw technique to cut cucumbers, red and green peppers, and tomatoes. After cutting their respective fruits and vegetables, one younger student exclaimed to a friend: “We are the masters!”. That was exactly right — with guided practice, these young chefs were learning basic knife skills in the kitchen.
Next, the peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes were mixed into the pasta with feta cheese. One of the Teen Apprentices, Daniel, showed the students what mincing is by demonstrating on a fresh pile of oregano leaves, which was added to the pasta salad. Meanwhile the Lemonade group mixed the lemon juice, sugar, and water to create their delicious summer beverage. One student was reminded of the joys of cooking and exclaimed, “I love to cook with my grandma!”

After both of the dishes were finally finished, the students started eating and drinking their creations. Some of the students were surprised that the peppers were not spicy, but actually quite sweet.

Many students discussed their favorite fruit or vegetable from the pasta salad, with many differing opinions. One student liked the food so much, she wanted to bring some home with her to share with her mom. When class was over, students left the kitchen with a small helping of extras to share with their loved ones. After creating something delicious, the smiling faces proved that these young kids were  enthusiastic about the dishes they made, and excited to learn more about food and cooking.