By Vayu Maini Rekdal ’15
In rural Minnesota, the next generation of sustainable chefs is in the making. For the past three terms, Firebellies —the Northfield, MN-based Carleton College Culinary Club—has organized an afterschool cooking program at the local middle school. Started during winter term, the Young Northfield Chefs program aims to inspire and empower teenage boys through the universal language of food, providing them with life skills inside and outside the kitchen. Each week, the course focuses on a different aspect of cooking, with interactive, hands-on activities designed to give the students a more comprehensive understanding of cooking and nutrition.
As the students’ skills, enthusiasm, and knowledge increased, the natural next step was to introduce the participants to professional chefs. Not surprisingly, the Bon Appétit team at Carleton, with its deep commitment to community building through food, was greatly enthusiastic about collaborating.
A field trip to Carleton was soon organized. Bon Appétit General Manager Katie McKenna opened the doors to the Carleton East dining hall, where the students embarked on a from-scratch pizza adventure taught by Sous Chef Gibson Price. The class included a fair amount of dough throwing (the approved kind) but also more serious topics, including tours of the full-scale industrial kitchen, a visit to the bakers (who offered delicious granola bars), and fruitful conversations about college life.
According to the middle school staff, the returning students are still bragging about their pizza-tossing skills and their encounter with “real chefs.” Their custom-designed aprons and certificates are symbols of pride and confidence, both inside and outside the kitchen. The Firebellies members, in turn,were proud to have given these students not only tangible items they treasure but something new to teach their families —as well as to have created yet another successful collaboration with Bon Appétit, one that will inspire a new generation of sustainable chefs.