Participants in the Iron Chef Kids Italian Academy presented in the Northeastern State University Second Century Camps are finding out what it means to serve others, while learning about food and culture.
“One of the things they’re learning this week, and that they learned last year that we thought was really important, was how to serve others,” said Iron Chef Camp Instructor Barbara Fuller. “So the other camp that’s going on this week, which is movie making, comes here for us to feed them lunch. It’s been a little tough for some, but they’re learning things like that. How to behave in a kitchen. How to hold a knife. How to cut.”
Fuller, who is an Educational Foundations and Leadership instructor for NSU, said last summer’s camp focused on Iron Chef cooking and exposed campers to a variety of cuisine, like German and Italian.
“This year, I wanted to focus on one area so we could talk about their culture, and talk about how important food was to that culture,” she said. “We really concentrated on things like Little Italy. They didn’t know why there was a Little Italy in New York or in San Francisco and in bigger cities. So we talked about people and how they immigrate and bring their food and customs with them, and how the United States has adapted to that.”
In discussing Italian cuisine, customs and culture, the campers work in groups, creating and cooking dishes from scratch, while practicing kitchen etiquette. Knowing how to troubleshoot situations when not having needed ingredients on hand is one skill Fuller has emphasized.
“They’ve learned how to adapt,” she said. “I’ll say we’re cooking this today and what can we do to adapt if we didn’t have enough of this or what do we do if we didn’t do this. So they’re really learning how to adapt to those situations. Everything’s been from scratch. We buy nothing that’s made from the store. Today we’re doing chicken alfredo. We spent two days making homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. They even made homemade freschetta.”
Dining code of behavior Fuller has exposed the campers to proper serving angles to table arrangement.
“They’ve learned how to set a table and we work a little bit everyday which side to serve from,” she said. “We spent the first two days getting used to serving other people before ourselves. That’s what we wanted to concentrate on. This afternoon, The Twig is giving them free gelato. So they’re going to be able to have ice cream and compare ice cream and gelato, and talk about the differences. Tomorrow we’re going to make homemade cannolis. It’s a little bit longer process. We did it in pastry wars and they loved it, so we’re going to do it again this week.”
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