Week 1: Ultimate Grilled Cheese

Kitchen Possible kicked off with its very first class this evening, and it was a huge success. Turnout was a little low due to the holiday weekend, but that just meant the kids who were there got a little extra support and could take their time. 

Our first recipe was Ultimate Grilled Cheese. As the name connotes, we avoided the classic American cheese and white bread variety. Ultimate meant they were full of different cheeses (Provolone, American, Havarti, Gouda), fresh veggies (bell peppers, spinach, tomato), fresh herbs (basil, cilantro), and meats (optional - bacon, ham, chorizo) - and each of our kids made one totally their own.

Though we covered some core cooking skills this week, the purpose of Kitchen Possible goes beyond food. Our goal is to help these kids understand how capable they are of making things happen in their lives, using food as a tangible and tasty example. We're following 5 Steps to Cook Anything every class:

  1. Decide what to make
  2. Get a recipe ready
  3. Follow it closely
  4. Check in, edit
  5. Taste and reflect

Diego ended our class with a story about learning to work in a restaurant years back, struggling to learn the ropes, hone his skills, and overcome the awkwardness of a new role. We talked about how he followed the same 5 steps to make it happen that we'd followed to make our grilled cheese sandwiches in the kitchen. It was promising to see the kids already starting to connect the dots between his story and the 5 steps we told them we'd use to tackle new recipes each week.

The kids were engaged and more enthusiastic than we could have hoped. One of them even suggested we all vote on what we make on the last day of class! It was so exciting to see the pride on the kids' faces as they completed their masterpieces. I am so excited to work with them again next week, when we tackle a fan favorite, pizza.

Life lessons on day 1:

1. A few times, kids flipped their grilled cheeses over to find they weren’t quite toasty enough. This happens in our lives ALL THE TIME! When’s the last time you thought you were ready for something, only to realize you’re not nearly as prepared as you thought. Time to get back in there and KEEP COOKING until you’re truly ready. I’m proud to say every single grilled cheese sandwich ended up beautifully golden and crispy in the end, and well worth the extra wait.

2. Most of the kids weren’t quite comfortable putting fresh herbs or some of the fancier cheeses (havarti, gouda) on their grilled cheese sandwiches. Can’t we all relate to this one? Trying new things can be scary, and it’s easy to stick to the things we’re comfortable with! The trick is to try them in a way that minimizes risk – today that meant tearing, smelling, and tasting the herbs, and taking nibbles of cheese before going all-in and putting them on a sandwich. In the end, everyone made sandwiches they never would have expected to like, and they all loved them!

Kitchen Possible takes place at Gads Hill Center for youth in their Junior Building Leaders program.