A Carleton Field Trip!: Week 6, Faribault, MN

It is hard to imagine a more perfect day for the culmination of Young Chefs than last Wednesday. As per tradition, for our last meeting of the term, we took the middle schoolers on a field trip to Carleton to give them a little change of scenery.
We picked the students up at Sayles and then strolled across the campus towards the science buildings. Since it was an absolutely gorgeous day, they got to see students relaxing and playing frisbee outside. Our first stop on our mini campus tour was the biology building. Since many had been to the building on prior trips, they remembered it fondly and asked to check up on the resident snake and lizard. As they learned though, the building is good for more than just animals. Our main purpose of the visit was to see the greenhouse and get a quick lesson on some of the plants grown there. The students marveled at the plants that were able to grow in water alone and were fascinated by the diverse array of plants that were all growing in the same space. As a souvenir of sorts, they were able to take home tomato plants that had been started in the greenhouse. After the brief botany lesson, the students stopped by a dorm room to get a sense of what it was like to live at school. Though some could not fathom the concept of being stuck at school, others were excited as they speculated living with their friends day in and day out.
Our last and longest stop of the day was the Carleton farm. Unfortunately there was little growing and harvest-able at this time of the year, but we discussed how the farm connected to all the cooking lessons we had done because it was a fantastic source of fruits and vegetables. Though we were not able to gather any food while we were there, we did get the chance to cook and eat outside. Playing off of the vegetable theme, the food of the day was fresh spring rolls. For the fillings of the rolls, we cut up jalapeños, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, rice noodles, mango, kiwi and nectarines. To make the spring rolls, we soaked the wrappers in water and then let the students use their creativity in picking their combinations of fruits and vegetables. At first, they were apprehensive, to say the least, about the concept of eating the “plastic” wrapper, but, eventually, they caught on to the idea and ended up scarfing down the spring rolls.
From the food, to the weather, to the personal conversations we had with the students about college and careers, the day could not have been more successful. If nothing else, simply being able to observe the students talk and laugh as they enjoy their unique vegetable creations was one of the most rewarding experiences as it paid tribute to the success of the mission of Young Chefs. As volunteers, we cannot wait to start up again in the fall and work towards incorporating high school students and the new middle school garden into our program!

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Young Chefs Expands to New York City, NY

Summer is coming and Young Chefs is growing! Please join us in welcoming:

Edible Schoolyard NYC, NY (2015-Present)

The Edible Schoolyard Program is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing sustainability awareness, gardening, and culinary education to New York public schools. Edible Schoolyard NYC partners with public schools in low-income areas to bring garden and kitchen classrooms to students and neighborhoods. ESNYC will be incorporating Young Chefs’ lesson plans into their classroom programming, using culinary science education to give students a hands-on opportunity to engage with the food that they are growing. Welcome, Edible Schoolyard!


Young Chefs to Collaborate with Harvard Medical School in summer program

We are excited to announce another development in Young Chefs. For the month of July, we will partner with the  Native American High School Summer Program in Boston, MA. Funded by Harvard Medical School, this program is a three-week summer program for high school students from participating Native communities. Students, teachers, and community representatives come to Harvard Medical School to learn about the science behind pressing health problems on the reservations. This year students will learn about the neurobiology of addiction, building on a curriculum used in the past. However, this year they will also experience some of the Young Chefs curriculum to learn about the science behind food preparation and nutrition as it related to diabetes and obesity. We are excited to meet new students and teachers!


Young Chefs in ChopChop magazine!

ChopChopKids is an innovative non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and teach kids to cook real food with their families. Like Young Chefs, ChopChop believes that cooking is a vital step in resolving the obesity and hunger epidemics. With these common goals, it is no surprise that Young Chefs and ChopChop started collaborating last fall. Now, Young Chefs co-founder Vayu Maini Rekdal writes for their quarterly magazine, sharing ideas and concepts from our lesson plans with over half a million families nationwide!

Published in the Summer 2015 issue, this article includes a corn and basil fritata, and explores the science that makes this wonderfully delicious dish possible.

Thank you to everyone who makes our program possible by contributing time, energy, and ideas.

Go Young Chefs!

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Young Chefs expands to The Bronx, NY

This past winter, we were privileged enough to have former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses visit Carleton College and Young Chefs in MN. This led to the exciting opportunity of having Young Chefs present at the New York Times Travel Show later in the winter, where we connected with a range of organizations who are working to change the way we eat and think about food. Now these connections have led to some exciting developments!

Through his Oregon-based non-profit Kitchen Garden Laboratory (which is funding the Young Chefs Garden in Northfield, MN), Bill Yosses will bring our curriculum to underserved youth in the Bronx, NY. Using the emulsions, salsa, hummus, and other lessons, Bill will collaborate with nationally renowned non-profit Green Bronx Machine in their afterschool program to empower the next generation with culinary and scientific knowledge. Go Bill!


Gardening: Rain or Shine!

After weeks of planning and dreaming, we ‘broke’ ground and built our raised beds at the Northfield Middle School. The process began with a trip to Menard’s—buying wood, sand and screws. After an hour or so of familiarizing ourselves with the cedar section (who knew there was so much to explore?!), we were set and ready to go build. We loaded up the car and headed to the middle school. With blue skies, green grass and the sun shining, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day! We got the general structure built and then left to let the electric drill charge up.

We returned a few days later to finish up the job. Unlike last time, the blue skies and sun had been replaced by gray clouds and rain. But, not even rainy weather could get our spirits down, as we knew that we were going to finish up the raised beds today. We completed drilling the raised beds, dug holes to put the stakes in and then used sand and dirt to secure them in the ground. Finishing up, we were soaked, but with huge smiles! The raised beds were built!

We then headed to the middle school to lead a class with our gardeners on the parts of the plants we eat—making spring rolls (Thanks to Kids Cook Classroom for the lesson idea). The next step for us is soil, and then planting!

Written by Erin Roth ’16

Cooking Competition Week: Week 5, Northfield, MN

This week, the young chefs got to try something new. They all participated in a cooking competition with an assortment of different ingredients, some they got to choose and others they had to make do with.

The young chefs came into the classroom and were divvied into different creative teams. Each team got to choose a noodle to form the base starch of their dish. There was regular pasta, rice noodles, and spinach fettuccini. On top of that, the groups also selected a mystery ingredient that they needed to incorporate into their dish. One group took some foraged mushrooms, another took some crushed walnuts, and the last grabbed a blackened plantain. All three groups left the can of sardines on the table. Something seemed fishy about that…

Besides for these staple ingredients, each team was also given 75 “culinary dollars” to spend on vegetables, cheeses, and fruits of their choosing. After the selection of the ingredients, each team broke off to discuss the meal they wanted to prepare. Before cooking, the judges made it clear that they were looking for creativity as well as a tasty meal. They young chefs started the process, trying to come up with a flavorful combination that showcased all their delicious and weird ingredients.

After an hour, the groups presented their masterpieces to two volunteers sitting eagerly at the judges’ table. The first group, who used rice noodles, made a sumptuous dish that incorporated the plantain nicely with some other salty components.

The second group, who used regular pasta, made a delicious Greek/Italian fusion with a tomato red sauce infused with rosemary and topped with crumbling feta cheese.

The last group, using the spinach fettuccine, presented an elegant green display of pasta layered with different types of cheese and surrounded by a bed of spinach to highlight the complexity in the pasta.

The Judges conferred and decided that while everyone brought their own creativity and nuanced flavors to the dish, the winner was the last group. Their presentation and creativity gave them the slight edge.

The young chefs happily passed around their dishes, getting to sample the other groups’ pastas and recounting the details with regards to their own preparation.

Young Chefs develops three new lessons!

These are exciting times in Young Chefs. We just launched our three latest science-cooking lessons, developed with Carleton College faculty and tested with over 40 middle school students before we published it. Enjoy!

Caramelizing Catalysts


In this lesson, students will learn to caramelize onions and make delicious omelets; through the caramelization of onions, students will learn about catalysts and caramelization. By setting up an experiment with a control group and one variable, students will use the scientific method to examine the role of catalysts in chemical processes.

Hot Tempered


In this lesson, students will learn how to perfectly temper chocolate, while learning about fat crystals and crystal formation. Students will explore the relationship of fat molecules and temperature to crystallization, while making delicious fondue.

Popping the Question


In this lesson, students will learn about physical phase changes through the process of making popcorn. Students will explore the vapor pressure systems and phase changes behind popcorn popping, while also engaging with culinary creativity in making innovative and unique popcorn flavors.

Young Chefs Expands to Columbus, OH

Please join us in welcoming the newest addition to Young Chefs:

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, OH (2015-Present)

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, recently named one of Columbus’s Five Nonprofits to Watch by the Columbus foundation, provides access to comprehensive after-school and summer programs to over 3500 youths in Columbus, OH. They will be utilizing our curriculum in their after-school programming, incorporating culinary science in their efforts to enable young people to reach their potential  as active members of their local communities.


Just Food Co-op starts fundraiser for Young Chefs!

JustFood co-op is the natural foods grocery store in Northfield, MN, and is a crucial partner for Young Chefs. Every since JustFood co-op committed to sponsoring Young Chefs in the winter, we have brought delicious, wholesome foods to underserved youth in our programs in Faribault and Northfield, MN.

Now JustFood co-op has announced a new step in our partnership. For the month of May, every customer visiting the store has the opportunity to round up their payment at the cashier, or just donate to us directly! All these proceeds will go towards our current efforts of expanding Young Chefs nationwide.

If you have your way past Northfield anytime soon, make sure to donate. Even the smallest contributions make a difference.