Kari's Kitchen: Culinary contest teaches life skills
April 15, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - The chef barks out the menu and other instructions.
On the menu, are sauteed pork, roasted tomato shallot salsa and chocolate-covered strawberries.
"The pork needs to be 145 degrees ... if it's one degree under ... I'm throwing it away," said Shaneil Williams, instructor and professional chef.
Cooks scurry about the kitchen gathering ingredients and prepping their stations to get orders out within a reasonable amount of time.
"You have 10 minutes," said Steve Hall, EDGE! Program director, as time winds down before presentations are made to the judges.
It's not another episode of Hell's Kitchen.
Instead it's Kari's Kitchen, the Wiesbaden adaptation of the popular reality show where the spatulas, spoons, thermometers and tongs are put in the hands of the youths.
"It's not just about cooking a recipe, I want them to apply all they've learned to cooking," said Williams.
The four-week program is offered through EDGE! in a format that teaches the basics of food preparation through competition.
"They're not just learning how to throw a piece of meat on the stove," said Williams. "It's something they can take back to home and cook for mom and dad."
Each week the students prepared a different main course - sauteed chicken, steak, fish or pork, a side dish and a dessert.
"I try to keep things really easy and simple," said Williams, who said the menus were made up of ingredients that were accessible to the students in case they wanted to try them at home.
Some have taken what they have learned home to help out in the kitchen.
"Now I can tell my mom how to use stuff," said Alex Heim, who said before participating in the program she could only cook the really easy stuff and help her mother a little in the kitchen.
The lessons learned for others held a more collateral value for their families.
"I know how to not burn the house down," said Dominique Huff, who said she knew how to cook the basics such as eggs.
And while the youths benefited in a variety of ways from the course, one that stands out was getting lessons from a true professional.
"You have help you can trust," said Heim, who said she now second-guesses her mom a bit.
Kari's Kitchen ran every Wednesday at the Wiesbaden Middle School instructional kitchen. An overall top chef was named and a different chef was honored each week based on the judges' feedback. Top chef of the course went to Nadjaliette Hernandez, and from week to week it was Justus Skeesick (week 1), Hernandez (2), Meagan Drew (3) and Victoria Devers (4).
"The partnership with DoDDS contributes greatly to the success of the program," said Hall. "The EDGE! has also strengthened Child, Youth and School Services internal partnerships, due to the program relying heavily on other CYSS programs for support and assistance. The end result has been great activities for youth across the community."
EDGE! activities run throughout the year and offer all sorts of activities to children and youth ages 6 to 18. Contact Parent Central Services on Wiesbaden Army Airfield for more information on the program at mil 337-7928, or civ (0611) 705-7928 or log on to www.armygermany.com.