Some households in Central Ohio now have some skilled young chefs in their kitchens. Sometimes when our Chef Blair Arms is cooking up a meal in the kitchen, she’s had curious children who are staying in the House, come up and ask questions. Sometimes, with the permission of their parents, she’s included these culinary curious kids in making her creations. That got Chef Blair to thinking: What if she were to invite local kids into the Ronald McDonald House main kitchen and teach them how to cook?! It was really an idea born out of necessity.
During the height of the pandemic, the House became very quiet without siblings being able to stay with us. Blair didn’t have that regular opportunity to show kids how to have fun with food in the the kitchen. She also was busy preparing meals by herself with many volunteers unable to help make the meals due to so many safety restrictions in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With few, if any, Team Cuisine meal groups paying for family meals on a regular basis as before the pandemic shut-downs, the budget for family meals began to dwindle. So the plan was forged for Chef Blair to hold the very first Culinary Camp for Kids as soon as we were able to have a small group of children back in the House. Not only would she be able to share her love for cooking with eager kids looking for something to do this summer, the donations would help bring back the budget for family meals!
Kids ages 10 to 14 got to learn cooking techniques while learning their way around a kitchen and how to create meals. What’s more, they got to learn the importance of helping others. The children participated in a hands-on learning experience each day, led by Chef Blair. Columbus Downtown High School’s Culinary Teacher Chef Anthony, who also fills in for Chef Blair at the House from time-to-time, also taught the students invaluable lessons. They even created lunch two times for all of the families staying at the House on two of the days during the five-day camp. Chef Blair also invited a few other distinguished guest chefs to join the class throughout the week and impart their special knowledge to campers too. Chef Virginia Bistriceanu taught a crepe class one day that allowed the children to learn how to make one of Chef Virginia’s signature crepes, which can sell for as much as $20 in an upscale restaurant! Chef Virginia showed the campers how to make crepes as thin as possible, but still allow the pancake-like confections to hold the fruit filling.
Two pros from the Ohio State University also helped teach the kids during this camp. Dr. Lyda Garcia, Assistant Professor for Meat Science and a Meat Extension Specialist taught the kids all about beef one day, while Dr. Michael Cressman, Assistant Professor, Professional Practice, with the Department of Animal Sciences showed the children how to properly divide up a whole chicken for grilling.
The final, second lunch was also be open to the parents of the campers. Some of those parents expressing that they would like to participate in a Culinary Camp themselves! They saw that their children learned the importance of nutrition and gained valuable kitchen skills, all while serving families and learning about the mission of our charity. Stay tuned to our Events webpage for possible future in-person Culinary Classes by Chef Blair.