Crystal looks forward to being able to help at in-house events at VIP Industries and is proud to say that she has already participated in preparations. Completing the cooking class is a pre-requisite for assisting at the monthly events. From preparing the meals to setting the tables, Crystal is excited about helping and volunteers at every opportunity.
Classmate Beth echoed Crystal’s enthusiasm, adding that she helped make the chili for the Halloween party held in October. Beth feels more a part of an event when she is able to help with the “behind the scenes” details, she said.
Both women were students in the first “Basic Culinary Skills: An Introduction to Kitchen Safety & Food Preparation” class, where they gained confidence and knowledge in the world of cooking. Crystal pointed out that she is even helping her staff more at her Regency Management apartment when it comes to meal time.
Because of the success and interest from the first class, two more have been held. The third class ended on January 17th. The course, which is sponsored by The Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID), is a total of 12 hours long and broken into six two-hour sessions.
Eight more students have earned certificates of completion and are looking forward to their opportunities to help with future in-house events. Whether they will assist with cooking, setting the table, or cleaning up will be determined at each event.
“To me, setting the table is the most important of all,” said Mary Jane, a member of the second culinary course. “It helps free up others for cooking.”
For one recent graduate of the class, Daniel, his interest in the class sparked when he saw students from the last class cooking. While he knows how to cook, he said, he needs lessons.
“Some things I can cook good, and some I can’t,” he admitted.
One of Daniel’s favorite items to make is chili, which is something he could make before taking the class. One recipe he would love to make in the future is lasagna, which is something he feels he can make now with the knowledge he learned in the class.
As for Victoria, she admits that she just can’t cook and that is why she took the class.
“I could burn water,” she said with a laugh.
Victoria’s favorite part about the course was “getting new ideas and learning how to cook the right way.”
Daniel and Victoria hope to help with future in-house meals, as they want to be a part of the events. Their classmate, Lisa, echoed those hopes, as she also looks forward to helping.
While Lisa has learned many skills from the class, she was happy to learn how to measure liquid ingredients even if it may be a bit trickier having to get down to the level of the measuring cup. “Lisa is planning on cooking. She said she is going to make me turkey quesadillas,” said Lisa’s mother, Peggy. “She’s very enthused.”
Before taking the class, Lisa helped her mother by handing her ingredients when cooking and stirring items like macaroni on the stove top. Because of the culinary course, Lisa’s knowledge of cooking has increased.
“I think it was good for her,” Peggy said.
Skills and Recipes Covered
With each class comes a new set of skills and a new food and/or recipe to try. The first class is an introduction to kitchen safety and the revelation of a bag full of kitchen tools the students get to use throughout the course and then take home with them.
The actual hands-on experience begins in the second class when students learn how to measure and then practice measuring out ingredients for baking cupcakes.
Throughout the culinary course, hygiene and safe-food handling practices are stressed. While all the students listen and follow the procedures, one student in particular has taken extra steps to prepare for each class. Each morning she makes sure to wash her hair and pull it back in a ponytail so she does not get any hair in the food she is preparing. She takes great pride in being a member of this course.
In the third class, the students are introduced to a 5-inch Santuko knife and learn how to cut items, as well as learn knife safety and cutting terms. In this class they get to make pan fried potatoes and onions with fried zucchini.
“As we go, the recipes get more complex,” noted Christine, the teacher of the course. She is a SEMO college student who works for AID part-time and has a passion for cooking. Each class also reviews lessons learned from previous classes and uses past skills as well.
In the next two classes, students are exposed to safe meat handling practices and a lesson in how to choose the right fruits. Recipes include turkey tacos and nutty parmesan fish. During the last class the students get to put their skills to the test and prepare a meal for guests they invite to a reception. Menu items include chicken pasta soup, biscuits, and fruit salad.
Not only does this final class help Christine see what the students have learned, but it also helps boost the confidence of her students.
“There’s a lot of pride in being able to say I helped make this,” Christine noted.