About Young Chefs

The Young Chefs, an outreach program of the Firebellies student organization, aims to inspire and empower youth through cooking, while providing them with skills and knowledge relevant to culinary and academic activities.

The Young Chefs program matches Carleton student volunteers with underprivileged teenage boys at Northfield and Faribault Middle Schools. The program, initially funded by a Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, started in the winter of 2013 and has continued to be popular among both middle schoolers and Carleton student volunteers.

Northfield and Faribault are food-aware communities, but many gaps remain to be filled, especially within youth cooking education targeted at boys. As such, Young Chefs fills an important gap in the communities: it connects youth not only with inspiring role models, but also to their community, their land, and each other.

Each week Carleton students teach cooking as an art, nurturing an environment where the children are the artists and the ingredients their working material. You cannot define art for an artist, so the workshops are not focused on strict adherence to recipes. Instead, participants are guided to go step-by-step in order to define and get familiar with the art they are creating. The lessons are designed to be interactive, presenting hands-on activities for students to gain a more comprehensive understanding of cooking and nutrition. One week might focus on knife skills and salsa making, while another focuses on simple stove-top cooking through roasting nuts. Gradually, the program introduces more complex activities such as cooking meals.

Young Chefs hopes to raise awareness about the importance of cooking as a medium to promote not only sustainability and health, but also to emphasize food as a social event, and the profound cultural role it plays in society. While the program hopes to provide participants with basic cooking skills that will be beneficial throughout their lives, activites also include food-related games, field trips, and lectures that can help enhance participants’ learning experience.

For more information visit the Young Chefs website.