Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrity Chef Camp In the News!!

Sometimes, you wake up and you just know it's going to be a good day. Today?'s one of those days.

Photo by Bill Green of the FNP

There is an absolutely terrific article in today's paper talking about the Celebrity Chef camp at The Kitchen Studio. Celebrity Chef camp is a week of cooking camp for 8-11 year-olds that teaches the techniques and style of certain celebrity chefs. For example, the kids played with fondant one day in an Ace of Cakes-style cupcake class. (BTW-they loved it.) At the end of the week, we divide the kids into pairs and each pair does a demonstration for the entire class and their parents. They feel a little like rockstars themselves and leave camp feeling accomplished and confident. Win-win I say!

As I read the article today, I couldn't help but be proud of these kids, and truth be told, myself, just a little bit. Because Rochelle Myers, the writer, really captured what we're doing with kids. And I love that.

You can click on the article here: or you can read the copy below. If you want to see fun pics of the kids cooking allllllllllll summer long, check out our kid's cooking website at Gotta Break Some Eggs or "like" us on Facebook for Break Some Eggs or The Kitchen Studio Cooking School. I'm posting photos several days a week, and you can really see the kids getting into the cooking.

Teaching the Joys of Cooking

Kids Cook Like Celebrity Chefs at Camp

by Rochelle Myers

Special to the News-Post

There is a group of children ages 8 to 11 standing around a steel kitchen work table. About two-thirds of them are holding plastic spoons that have been lightly laced with cayenne pepper.
Chef Christine Van Bloem had just instructed a child to add some of the cayenne to some flank steak destined for fajitas, prompting him to ask what cayenne pepper tastes like.

"I'm never gonna lie to you," Van Bloem said. "I think it's not very good on its own, but if you want to try it ..."

Most of the kids were game, and so they stood about waiting for a cue from Van Bloem to try the pepper.

At her signal, the spoons disappeared into waiting mouths. There is a brief pause, and then the kids start screwing up their faces in the universal "yuck" expression.

As the tasters run off for cups of milk to dull out the burning sensations on their tongues, I am reminded of the principle of professional cookery that everything must be tasted. These kids may not have known what straight cayenne pepper tasted like, and Van Bloem warned them that they probably wouldn't like it, but this is Celebrity Chef Camp -- and these kids are eager to learn as much as they can about the world of real chefs.

Celebrity Chef Camp took place June 21 through 25 at The Kitchen Studio in
Frederick , where Van Bloem used a different group of celebrity chefs each day to inspire her participants.
The week was photographed for Van Bloem's "Gotta Break Some Eggs" website (, where campers could enjoy a taste of their own celebrity. A segment aired by WHAG NBC-25 reinforced the kids' star power, and their parents videotaped their newfound skills on the last day of camp. Through it all, the kids never stopped learning the real hands-on techniques used by celebrity chefs to produce delicious food.

"The whole idea of Celebrity Chef Camp is to capitalize on how kids are so enraptured by cooking shows. They are very familiar with celebrity chefs from TV. This camp gives a taste of that, and each day's activities are designed to be in the style of a different celebrity chef," Van Bloem said.
The first day was inspired by Mario Batali and Giada de Laurentiis: Campers cut their teeth by learning to make ricotta cheese and pasta dough, which they transformed into ricotta-filled ravioli. Rick Bayless and Bobby Flay inspired a Tex-Mex menu of fajitas and corn-black bean salad, followed by churros, while Rachael Ray's approach to quick and easy food translated to zucchini fries and panko-crusted chicken. Duff Goldman of the TV program "Ace of Cakes" inspired a cake-centric day, during which campers learned how to use fondant to decorate cupcakes. The camp wrapped up Friday with the kids preparing a dish they learned earlier in the week for their parents' cameras.

Van Bloem uses a hands-on approach to involve children in learning cooking skills. For example, she stands behind a child with her hands on the girl's hands when showing her how to use a chef's knife. The knife is long and sharp -- exactly the sort wielded by a celebrity chef on television -- and the girl's hands appear small next to the enormous blade.

With the help of Van Bloem's physical guidance, the girl cuts the garlic clove evenly and safely.
Van Bloem also uses lessons learned from celebrity chefs to illustrate helpful cooking techniques. For example, she cites Rachael Ray's "garbage bowl" -- a bowl set on the counter to collect cooking waste. Van Bloem uses a garbage bowl to collect corn cobs as she slices corn off the cob for a black bean and corn salad.

"Anytime you invoke a chef's name that's familiar, it changes kids -- it energizes them," she said.
"I try to adapt recipes like the black bean and corn salad to introduce new flavors to kids without overwhelming them with flavors. I'm not talking about hiding vegetables in a dish -- I will never lie to kids," Van Bloem said. "A lot of parents try to overwhelm their kids with a side of asparagus, rather than adding a little asparagus to a salad."

Her efforts pay off when the campers gather around a table to scoop up the black bean and corn salad for lunch.

"Are they using good technique? Are they doing something cool? Then camp was a success," she said.

FYI - Our summer of cooking camps is completely sold out. A happy surprise for us, not so happy for the folks who just found out about us. So this fall, we're going to offer several of our most popular cooking camps after-school. And next summer, we're going to somehow find a way to add more hours into the day and add a few more camps. Though it seems far away, mark your calendars now, because camp registration opens March 1, 2011. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New North Frederick Farmer's Market Opens Wednesday!

Looking to get your market on during the week? The North Frederick Farmer's Market opens tomorrow, Wednesday, June 9 at 3pm. It's located in the old Carmack Jay's parking lot (you know the one, it's been surrounded by fencing for the past several years and sits on the west side of Market St. just before 4th St.) and will run every Wednesday Through October from 3-7.
I am digging this not just because it is 2 blocks from my house, but because it's dog friendly too. Munchie will be so happy. :)
They're going to have a number of vendors, including:
Glade Link Farm - Cut flowers, berries, vegetables
Washington Street Gardens - Plants and vegetables
Tomatoes Etc. - Vegetables
Lewis Orchard - Fruit
Bella Terra Farm - Vegetables and cut flowers
Rettland Farm - Beef, pork and eggs
Goose Creek Farm - Baked goods, lamb, beef, cut flowers
Kiparoo Farms - Wool, yarn, and handknits
Truffle King - Chocolates
Pennys Plants - Plants and herbs
Whitmore Farm - Lamb, pork, rabbit, and vegetables
As usual, everything has been raised, grown or made within 120 miles of Frederick.
Check out the market tomorrow and let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The White House: A Recap

If you didn't know already, I had the opportunity to visit the White House grounds on Friday as part of the kick-off of the First Lady's program, Chef's Move to Schools. (You can check out my previous post for more specifics on the program.)

I'd like to tell you that it was all sunshine and roses and that Mrs. Obama and I sat and discussed fashion and food while sipping tea in the Rose Garden. But of course, I can't.

The event was essentially a mass photo call to catch The First Lady with a group of chefs dedicated to the progression of her program (which isn't a bad thing, though I may seem like I'm grumbling -- I'm not).

I arrived in DC a little later than expected due to Marc train delays. No biggie - I was headed to the breakfast sponsored by Share Our Strength, a terrific organization. Because of my tardiness, I needed to sit in an overflow room to hear the speakers (via video) - the ballroom was full.

The speakers were actually really great and motivating. I especially enjoyed Bill Telepan, who owns a restaurant in NYC and volunteers at his daughter's school and beyond. He was sassy and fun and obviously into the work of teaching kids about healthier food, as was everyone on the panel.

After breakfast, we started to walk to The White House. It was starting to warm up quite a bit, but with the excitement in the air, it wasn't a problem. We formed a queue outside the gate and waited for everything to open.
I was actually toward the beginning of the line.

We passed through two checkpoints and showed our id and had our names checked off a list -- a really, really long list. Then we went into a small building to have everything x-rayed and metal detected. It was quick and without doubt, everyone was super friendly. From there, we were allowed to walk the grounds (within reason of course) until the program started at 12.

It was warming up quite a bit at this point, and there wasn't a ton of shade, so after the all-but required photo op:

I strolled down to the WH garden to take a look. Not too shabby, eh?

I was really feeling the heat and started looking for water. It's the White House, right? Of course they would have tons and tons of water for everyone, especially because we were all wearing our heavy long-sleeved chef coats over our clothes. Not so much. One of the two water coolers down by the garden was completely empty. The other still had a bit of water, so I snagged a cup and moved on. No sense drinking the 8 cups I wanted with so many folks there in a similar situation. But I felt a little better (ah-middle age...), so all was good.

We progressed up to the South Lawn at the appointed time and sat down. There was lots of ohhh & ahhhing and celeb chef sightings. What really surprised me were all of the bold-face names I saw. Initially, I really thought that this event was specifically targeted to include cooks, chefs, & instructors who worked with kids, which is why I was so excited. But it really was more inclusive than that. In line, I stood beside a rep from The James Beard House and another from the National Restaurant Association. It seemed like anyone who had anything to do food in any aspect was there.

Chefs/TV personalities I recognized included: Daniel Boulud, Ellie Krieger, Aaron McCargo Jr., Carla Hall, Cat Cora, Art Smith (looking saucy in a semi-sheer shirt), Anne Burrell (a personal fave in a super cute floral dress) and, well, I've blanked on the others, but the list goes on and on. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there. Counts varied anywhere from 500 to 1,000. WOW!

One of the encouraging facts that I heard was that over 900 chefs, cooks, & instructors have already signed up to adopt a school. I'm glad to hear that, because I would hate to think that the folks in attendance weren't really there to support the program.

That said, Mrs. Obama is a wonderful speaker. She has grace and elegance and brings you into her cause with her enthusiasm. I am thrilled that I had a chance to hear her speak in person. I believe it was a once in a lifetime chance for me, and I am as dedicated to teaching kids as I ever have been.

Originally, I intended on going to lunch with the crew from IACP (International Assoc. of Culinary Professionals). But we were running behind schedule and I was afraid that I would miss my train home (brain dead alert - it never crossed my mind that I could take a later train home - duh!), so I skipped it. Instead I strolled down PA Ave and had lunch outside at The Willard Hotel by myself. In the shade, and with lots and lots of water. It was lovely.
So, was it worth the trip? For me living so close? Absolutely. As the event got closer and closer, I started to realize that this would be much, much larger than originally thought. That many hundreds of cooks would be in attendance and that it would be more of a cattle call, and I mean that in the very nicest way. So I had adjusted my expectations and came out of it feeling good and ready to continue my work with the schools. I'm waiting to hear what school I'm paired up with, but I'm hoping it's Monocacy Elementary, as I've been working there a bunch this year and they've just planted a new school garden, which is something new to get excited about.
My prize possession from the trip?

My Presidential Seal Styrofoam cup of course. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

White House, Here I Come!

You read that right...I'm going to The White House.

On Friday, June 4, I'll be part of what will no doubt be a massive scrum of chefs, cooks, and culinary instructors as part of the First Lady's Chefs Move to School program, being held on the South Lawn.

Seriously, how freakin' cool is that?

The gist of the program is to have chefs, cooks, & culinary instructors volunteer in schools to teach kids about healthy eating. Simple enough, right?

My focus has been slightly different from this, but hopefully with the same eventual result. I believe that if you teach kids (and teens and tweens) to cook, if you give them the skills to fend for themselves a bit, you're giving them the power to start making the right choices. Rather than getting every kid to love broccoli so much that they want a broccoli tattoo someday, I want to get them away from all of the stupid preservatives and ingredients you can't pronounce.

Because if you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't eat it. Am I right or am I right? :)

I'm catching a very, very early Marc train down to DC tomorrow morning at some obscene hour and am heading to a breakfast that Share Our Strength is hosting. Some bigwigs and muckety-mucks will be speaking, including the Secretary of Education, the White House Assistant Chef, and the founder of SOS, and I'm excited to hear what they have to say. This is a massive undertaking and I'm interested to see how it plays out once the photo ops are over. Personally, I've been working with Monocacy Elementary with an afterschool program and with Parkway & Yellow Springs Elementary doing lessons on cooking with math & using fractions. I get the feeling that there are a lot of cooks out there who specialize in kids. Guess we'll see tomorrow, from the White House lawn.

Stay tuned for pictures!!