Young Chefs adds new feature: lessons for students

While Young Chefs has a lot to offer to educators, including an extensive curriculum and a range of teacher resources, the organization has long lacked resources designed exclusively for students. Web-based resources are now playing a larger role in education than ever before, giving people of all ages access to new knowledge, irrespective of geographical location and other constraints. With this in mind, the Young Chefs advisory board has created a virtual learning lab where students across the globe can download and interact with all the resources they need to improve their culinary skill and scientific literacy — through simple kitchen experiments.

Specifically, our website now features lesson plans specifically designed for students. These lessons are adapted from our extensive educator lessons but focus more on the hands-on experimentation as opposed to teaching methods and detailed discussion of scientific concepts. Each lesson contains brief information about the relevant science, followed by a detailed experiment that leads to a delicious edible outcome. Currently, students can learn about protein denaturation through pancakes, solubility of liquids through salad dressing, diffusion through tofu, and many more scientific concepts. We are currently developing even more student lesson and hope to provide our full physical science and life science curriculum directly to students in just a few weeks.

In addition to student lesson plans, we have developed a comprehensive guide describing all the necessary kitchen tips and tricks that you will need to get started. We hope that this document will remove any barriers for first-time learners.

We are excited to add this development, which is just a small part of our recent efforts to create a worldwide network of educators and learners interested in food science education.

Stay tuned for more!


Student carefully making delicious chocolate sauce in New Haven, CT


Kitchen Garden Laboratory/Young Chefs benefit in NYC

Save the date: Monday, May 2nd. Benefit with Bill Yosses!

Teaming up with legendary New York chef David Bouley, culinary Advisor Bill Yosses is hosting a benefit for his organization Kitchen Garden Laboratory as well as Young Chefs. The fundraiser will support KGL/ young chefs collaboration in building gardens as science and cooking learning spaces in underserved communities across the U.S

Read more from the official announcement below:

KGL founder, former Bouley and White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, literally baked his way into a food movement that is changing the way young people look at food. His path took him from mentorships in France to leading the lavish dessert departments of the best restaurants in New York City and finally to an eight-year reign in the White House kitchen. He is now the “anti-sugar pastry chef”!

“When a dessert chef says that too much sugar is being used to make desserts, you know there is a problem,” quipped Bill recently.

Bill worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama to vastly expand the White House’s kitchen garden, launch a bee-keeping program and concentrate on making healthier but ever-delicious desserts. Bill started by replacing butter with fruit puree and sugar with honey and agave and he became an ambassador for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.

Kitchen Garden Laboratory has partnered with Vayu Maini Rekdal, a PhD candidate in Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, as well as the curriculum writers and leaders behind the Young Chefs Program (YCP) to create lesson plans that use cooking to teach STEM subjects across the world.

KGL and YCP curriculum programs have been used in a wide array of contexts, from New York City’s Department of Education and Harvard Medical School, to underserved communities in Minnesota and classrooms around the globe. Their innovative, fun lesson plans are in line with the Next Generation Science Standards so they can easily be incorporated into the ongoing education of American schoolchildren.

Bill is an author of three books on food, a James Beard Foundation Award Winner and the creator of the New York Times Travel Show’s Kid’s Kitchen.

Young Chefs in New Haven, CT

An after school program at the Co-op for Arts and Humanities High-School just started its second class of “Cooking as Science” using the Young Chefs’ curriculum! “Celebrating the arts in each of us and in all we do, Cooperative Arts and Humanities is a rigorous arts-focused, college preparatory program that awakens a diverse community of student-artists to their individual powers as creators, thinkers, and leaders for the twenty-first century.” At this high school in New Haven, Connecticut, the Young Chefs Program is used as part of the school’s robust after school programming, in a class led by one of the school’s chemistry teachers. The program was well received in the Fall of 2015 and the school’s educators and students are excited for “Cooking as Science” lessons to continue this Spring. The lessons are used to provide a novel and creative approach to learning crucial scientific concepts. The Exploring Phases Changes Through Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce lesson plan was particularly successful. Students enjoyed both the process of making their own ice cream, gaining hands-on experience with phase changes, and eating the delicious outcomes!

Young Chefs Updates

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Pickles Made by students

by Emily Pence, co-founder and outreach coordinator, Young Chefs.

The Young Chefs Program: From Cooking to Science has taken many new directions since we last sent an update. We are delighted to share that our program keeps growing and growing. This email highlights some of our newest developments, including new curriculum, summer programming, the building of a garden in Northfield, MN, and ways for you to become involved in our initiative.

We developed new open-access lesson plans and resources expanding our open-access curriculum to 18 lessons, with more coming soon! The newest lessons explore a range of different concepts, including:

  • molecular neuroscience and chemical solubility (chili peppers)
  • acids and bases (homemade pickles)
  • crystal formation and microscopic-macroscopic relationships (chocolate)
  • protein crosslinking and gluten formation (pie crusts)
  • physical changes (popcorn)
  • olfaction and physiology (spice-roasted nuts)
  • catalysis and the Maillard Reaction (onions)

Have a look for yourself, We also updated and refined our old lesson, and added new educator facing resources such as science standards grids, culinary skills grids, and networks.

We expanded our program to new locations… Our curriculum is now used regularly by educators all across the U.S, as well as locations in Canada, China, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. People are implementing our resources in science museums, classrooms, after school programs, summer camps and their own homes. We are very excited to continuously extend our network of educators and students involved in science and cooking education. Find a map of all our programs at

We built a school garden at the local middle school in Northfield, MN Funded by Kitchen Garden Laboratory and spearheaded by Carleton students Erin Roth ’16 and Christian Purnell ’17, this garden is now fully operational, serving as an edible laboratory for the students enrolled in the summer BLAST program taking Young Chefs classes in Northfield. You can read the latest updates on our blog, 

We brought our curriculum to new communities and educators during the summer… Summer of 2015 was a busy time for us. In addition to the weekly summer programming in Northfield, MN, we have worked closely with Bill Yosses and had the opportunity to work with NYC STEM public school teachers in the curriculum to bring to NYC classrooms in the fall; we worked with Harvard Medical School hosting workshops on the modern science of indigenous foods for Native American high school students and teachers; we worked with Harvard SEAS to use our curriculum in their weekly summer programming bringing cooking and science to underserved youth in Cambridge, MA, and much, much more. For the full story of our some of summer adventures, see

If you’re excited about The Young Chefs Program and want to get involved in the initiative… there are several ways you can partner with us

  1. Use our curriculum! We’d love for you to try out our lesson plans. Whether you want to try them out in your own kitchen, or a professional industrial kitchen, or a public school class room, lesson plans can be requested at
  2. Write your own lesson plan! We invite you to contribute your voice and creativity to our resources. To find the template, go to and email us your lesson when it’s done and we will review and publish it!

These are great times to be involved with cooking and science education. We are excited to share these new developments and expand our network of educators and organizations using cooking to combat inequalities in health and STEM education. We remain deeply committed to making this creative approach to science and cooking healthy food to ALL young people.

Stay hungry!

Young Chefs launches collaboration with MIT OpenAG

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The MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture (“OpenAG”) Initiative is on a mission to bring out the farmer in everyone by creating healthier, more engaging, and more inventive food systems. The OpenAG Food Computer is a controlled environment agriculture system that allow users to grow food inside of specialized chamber that can be programmed, modified, manipulated, upgraded, and hacked as users experiment to find the perfect growing recipes for their favorite fresh foods. To get this project started, they are recruiting the world’s most curious, innovative, and enthusiastic scientists out there – kids. Today’s students have grown up in a world of rapidly evolving technology and they are natural born experimenters, programmers, and tinkerers.

Sounds familiar?

openAG = Kids + Food + Science + Education = Young Chefs

After connecting with the OpenAG team this past summer (introduced by indigenous peoples scholars and national geographic explorers mary and jon waterhousentroduced by indigenous peoples scholars and national geographic explorers mary and jon waterhouse), the Young Chefs team was inspired by the possibility of using the Food Computer to teach the science of food growing in engaging and accessible ways. In July we had the opportunity to visit and meet with the founder, Caleb Harper, exploring how to integrate their portable growing devices into the Young Chefs curriculum, eventually giving students the opportunity to learn about the science of food as it develops from the seed to the plate.

From meeting Caleb Harper and connecting with the team, it became clear that we had a shared mission: to develop resources that are both open access and center on a shared commitment to build food and science literacy in the next generation.

Today, we are excited to announce an official collaboration with the team. This involves cooperation on curriculum development for their ongoing efforts, but more importantly, invites Young Chefs to use and experiment with the food computer to integrate its gardening powers into our hands-on cooking science lesson plans. From the summer and on, we will use it to develop lesson plans that focus on scientific concepts relevant to food growing, such as environmental science, nutrition, organismal biology, plant metabolism, physics of energy. But the most innovative aspect of the partnership is that the food computer invites students to learn basic programming languages such as Raspberry Pi, thus integrating computer science into the Young Chefs model. In other words, the food computer expands both the scientific and culinary component of our curriculum; from botany, to engineering, and programming to nutrition, the Food Computer offers many new edible experiments for students worldwide.

We are extremely excited about this collaboration and are looking forward to not only developing the materials and working closely with the OpenAG team, but also to bring food computers to our workshops with educators and students in NYC (funded by NYC Department of Education), in Native American communities, Boston, and beyond. We are eternally grateful to the OpenAG team for making this happen!!




How Are People Using Our Curriculum?

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What Settings Are Curriculum is Used In. This graph was generated from data of what settings educators are using Young Chefs curriculum in. 

In addition to The Young Chefs curriculum and resources being used in a vast variety of places, now from Sri Lanka to New York City,  educators are also using it in a diverse array of different settings. The graph above shows a breakdown of what spaces our curriculum is being used in. As you can see, the majority of the time, are lesson plans are used in either during school or in after school programs. But a significant amount of people are also testing them out in their own home kitchens, at different summer camps, and recently, even in science museums.

This diversity in settings where educators use our curriculum speaks to the adaptability of our lesson plans. We are continuing to work hard to generate lesson plans that can enhance as many different settings and programs as possible. We are also working to clearly communicate what resources you might need for each lesson plan, so you can feel prepared to teach our curriculum in which ever setting you want. Take a look at our Teaching Resources to find more information.

Are you eager to try out making chocolate, learning about polymers or experimenting with pickles in your classroom, home kitchen, or a new frontier? Get started and request some lesson plans here!

Young Chefs program to appear at NYC Stem Institute

Young Chefs program to continue collaboration with NYC Department of Education

Vayu Maini Rekdal

Just received confirmation that Bill Yosses and I will continue our collaboration with the NYC Department of Education, bringing our cooking-science curriculum to at least 30 classrooms in NYC. During the three-day workshop April 26-28, we will empower principals and educators to use our hands-on lessons a new medium for education across the five boroughs. Excited to continue the collaboration and bring more edible experiments to the students of NYC.

Read more about the announcement here:

View original post

Check Out How and Where Our Curriculum is Being Used

Since we switched to a model of having open lesson plans and resources, our curriculum is being used by almost 100 educators around the world…

Educators and youth from New York City, to Oklahoma, to British Colombia to Taiwan, China are currently engaging with our curriculum and resources. Our lesson plans are being used in diverse settings such as home kitchens, high school classrooms, after school programs and community centers. We are continuously developing and growing from feedback that we receive from groups and individuals using our materials.

For example, Immigrant Social Services (ISS) in New York City is currently using our lesson plans an after school program, and they said: “The kids absolutely love the lessons. Young Chefs is the most popular club in our after-school program.”


Student working on making a spice blend

Immigrant Social Services (ISS) is “dedicated to improving the conditions and promoting the welfare of immigrants and other persons seeking our services living in the Greater Chinatown community of New York City.”They have a middle school after school programs funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development in New York City. They work in partnership with five local public schools, providing children with opportunities to learn new skills ranging from technology and math, to reading and art, as well as provide positive role models who serve as inspiration for their future.

“The kids absolutely love the lessons. Young Chefs is the most popular club in our after-school program. All students ranging from grades 6-8 are exposed to various foods and scientific concepts behind cooking. Its popularity is due to students being curious about food and the hands-on nature of the activities, both of which keep the students engaged.”


Students with their sandwiches (featuring pickles they made themselves)

“Recently, we made pickles and they were a huge success. One student shared with us what she enjoyed about it: “I learned about how much acid is needed to eat something…” The week after we used those pickles and made sandwiches with them. Students were given a variety of meats, cheese and bread to make a sandwich with their group members. Student judges evaluated the final products based on the presentation, taste, texture, etc”

We’ve Evolved Again!

Since its founding in Northfield, MN in 2011, The Young Chefs Program has grown from a local after school program to a network of educators spreading science and cooking across the globe. This rapid expansion of Young Chefs necessitates a global leadership structure that extends beyond Northfield, MN, and can ensure that Young Chefs evolves without compromising the quality of its educational materials or ongoing programs.

With this in mind, the Carleton College volunteers, leaders, and supervisors, have worked together to establish The Young Chefs Advisory Board. This is a group that serves as a general point of contact for the rapidly proliferating Young Chefs Program branches, in addition to regulating the creation and editing of Young Chefs Program curriculum available to the public. The board will never privatize the our resources and lesson plans, and will not interfere with any local programs such as those in Northfield and Faribault, MN. Rather, this board is a group tasked with developing and maintaining a Young Chefs Program vision and a commitment to high-quality science and cooking education. By bringing together people with diverse passions, skills, and interests, this board will help Young Chefs Program evolve and grow in a cohesive and controlled way, empowering educators to optimally use our resources. Long-term, this advisory board could serve as a basis for a future non-profit organization.

While people have different roles with different tasks and commitments, the board as a whole will convene in quarterly online meetings to discuss ongoing developments and projects. In addition, the board will work with educators throughout the year as needed to review and develop curriculum for publication on the website. We are so excited!

Below are the new board members. For a more in depth description of our board, click here or go to the “About Us” tab on our website.


Vayu Maini Rekdal, co-founder and Visionary Advisor
PhD student at Harvard University, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology


Emily Pence, co-founder and Outreach Coordinator
High School Coach at College Possible, Minneapolis


Chef Bill Yosses, Culinary Advisor
Former executive pastry chef at the White House; Founder of Kitchen Garden Laboratory



Dr. Deborah Gross, Scientific Advisor
Professor of Chemistry, Carleton College



Laurel Goldner, Curriculum Coordinator
Student at the Culinary Institute of America; Prep/Line Cook for a Napa Valley food truck


Kyle Schiller, PR/webmaster
Student; Asian Studies major at Carleton College

Dr. Eric Swan McDonald, Curriculum Adviser

Professor of Science Education, Carleton College


Summer Garden Post #3: Northfield, MN


A few weeks ago in Young Chefs, the middle schoolers finally got to taste the fruit of their labor. After weeks of watering and care, the garden has begun to produce. Peppers, onions, cilantro, kale, even miniature eggplant! After a brief run in with bunnies early in the season, the basil made a full recovery and is flourishing more than ever. And what better way to celebrate than to make pizza!

The lesson began with a trip to the garden to harvest the ingredients to top the pizzas (supplemented by some delicious produce from the Coop). Back in the classroom, we explored the wonders of yeast as students made their own pizza dough. Many of the students were particularly good at getting the dough very thin (I admit I had to enlist their help for my own crust!) One group, feeling especially fancy, even made a stuffed cheese crust. While one or two students needed some extra encouragement, the majority were eager to add at least a few vegetables to their pizza. The instructors even got to make their own personal pizzas, which turned a bit competitive as each wanted the title of best pizza chef. (Whether the tomato, onion and mushroom pizza was able to top the beet, arugula, and goat cheese is still up for debate.) By the time the buses arrived at 2:30 there was not even one piece left to take home as leftovers – always a sign of a successful lesson. A few students did, however, take some extra basil home from the garden to enjoy later with their families. Moving into the fall, we are eager to see what more the garden will yield and what delicious culinary creations can be enjoyed from it!

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