Presser Arts Center hosts youth Chef’s Camp

Presser Arts Center hosts youth Chef’s Camp

Any seasoned camper knows to have a good knife handy. It’s also a good idea to bring along a nice brie or the makings of pumpkin pie – at least depending on the campsite.

In this case, the outing is at Presser Arts Center, which is hosting the facility’s first Chef’s Camp. The five-session class is designed to teach young people fundamental kitchen skills and give them a taste of what goes in to Thanksgiving dinner.

That means pie, of course. The fourth day is dedicated to making pumpkin pie from scratch. And that means stuffing, naturally. Participants will learn to spruce up cubes of dry bread in the third class.
“We felt like it was a really good way for kids to get involved,” observed Katie Azdell, Presser Arts Center’s administrator.

Azdell leads two of the classes, focused on drinks – homemade apple cider – and an appetizer. The starter? Baked brie dressed with pomegranate and pepper jelly, along with rosemary and olive oil crackers, all prepared in house.

Making pepper jelly allows campers to work with gelatin. Along with the brie will be a cheese tasting and discussion of different styles of curd. Consider the crackers as baking 101.
“Crackers don’t require rising – it’s just a rolled out dough,” Azdell explained. “It’s a great entry.”

When participants pull it all together, well, “If you are 10 years old and can present that to your family, I think it’s impressive,” she added.

The program is intended for young people 10 and up and takes place over five days – Nov. 9-13 – from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the drink, starter, sides and dessert, students will learn a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece.

“It wasn’t realistic to do a whole turkey,” Azdell pointed out. Instead, the class will focus on pan fried turkey cutlets.

Each session will include information about ingredients and techniques, along with occasional tips on presentation. Due to COVID-19, the camp is limited to eight students and will follow safety guidelines. Each participant will have their own work space and no sharing of utensils or ingredients will be allowed.

“It’s definitely difficult to pull this off, but I think we can,” Azdell said.

Azdell learned to cook from her mother, a dedicated home chef from both French and Italian roots – hence her appreciation of fine cheese and the art of baking.

“Anything bread and pasta was taught to me at a young age,” she noted with a laugh.

The cost is $125 and some financial assistance is available. If the camp goes as expected, the arts center hopes to host a similar version for adults.

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