Kids Cook with the Stars

Sprouts-story--Chef-Jen-Biesty-of-Shakewell-shows-a-few-chef`s-secrets-on-baking-and-savory-prep-credit-Chi-Zhing

Chef Jen Biesty of Shakewell shares a few of her baking secrets with Sprouts campers.
Photo: Chi Zhing

Sprouts Cooking Club offers classes and camps for Bay Area kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds who want to learn hands-on cooking with fresh ingredients. After finishing its ninth season of summer camp, Sprouts held a special week-long series that featured celebrity chefs teaching aspiring chefs ages 8–13. Many of these youths were on scholarship and were recruited by Sprouts’ partners at Seneca and First Place for Youth, two nonprofits that serve kids facing a variety of challenges including placement in foster care.

On August 10–14, the 18 young chefs embarked on a mission to cook and learn from Bay Area culinary champions from Chopped, Top Chef, and other TV competitions. All foods were local and sustainable, from Riverdog Farm veggies to chickens from Petaluma Poultry. The week’s theme, cooking under pressure, challenged students to learn about prepping, cooking, plating, and serving, all while battling the pressure of the clock.

Chef-Mario-at-Beetlenut-photo-by-Chi-Zhing

Chef Mario of Betelnut shows the kids just how intense the heat
of cooking under pressure can be. Photo: Chi Zhing

The week began at Twenty Five Lusk, where the group enjoyed a hands-on cooking class, then prepared and executed an entire lunch with executive chef and owner Matthew Dolan. Day two brought the student chefs to Jardinière for a cooking class with Chef Morgan and a Q & A session with Traci Des Jardins, who has competed in Top Chef: Masters and Iron Chef America. The group was also treated to firsthand experience with chefs at BetelnutFlora, and Shakewell, where they helped the line cooks prep during lunch service. A trip to Frog Hollow Farm featured an insiders’ tour and jam-making session.

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After the 60-minute cook-off, the culinary competitors wait eagerly for the judges
to begin their tasting. Photo: Christophe Wu

The week concluded with a final cook-off back at Twenty Five Lusk, where groups of four junior chefs each created two distinct dishes for the judges. The chefs were not only under time constraints, but also had to use all of the ingredients provided, including a secret ingredient—fresh chioggia beets from Alemany Farm.

Learn about Sprouts scholarships and upcoming classes and camps here.

 Kids try tasting while blindfolded to hone their senses of taste, smell, and texture and identify mystery ingredients. Photo: Chi Zhing

Kids try tasting while blindfolded to hone their senses of taste, smell, and texture
and identify mystery ingredients. Photo: Chi Zhing