Middle School Cooking Project
The program will be very similar to one Vayu started in Stockholm, Sweden, and later continued in New York City. In both cities, Vayu took groups of teenage boys on a cooking adventure that lasted from two weeks to ten weeks. The huge success could probably be ascribed to the unique concept and philosophy that provide the groundwork for the workshops.
Vayu teaches 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. As a result, 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. Building on his own experience as a chef and once a young boy learning how to cook, Vayu — with help from people from my Carleton cooking club FIreBellies –wishes to inspire and empower Northfield youths through cooking. A basic knowledge of cooking is priceless, no matter what your life situation looks like. This would provide a great opportunity for connecting Northfield youth with inspiring, bright-minded students at Carleton College.
To reach these aspirations, Vayu and Firebellies will design a five-step workshop series. Even though each workshop builds on the previous one(s), each workshop is also unique. Through specific themes, such as seasonality or cuisines of the world, participants will be immersed in a productive learning environment that integrates all aspects of food – cultural, social, health, education, sustainability – into a hands-on cooking class series.
Drawing much upon his own experience, Vayu wishes to inspire and empower youths to be creative and take responsibility both inside and outside the kitchen. In many was, Vayu hopes to raise awareness about the importance of cooking as a great 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. In addition, Vayu hopes to provide the participants with basic cooking skills that will be beneficial throughout their lives. The program will not be restricted to cooking activities; it will also include food-related games that can help enhance participants’ learning experience.
5 weekly or bi-weekly 1-hour long cooking classes at the Northfield middle school during the Carleton winter term, which goes from January 1st through March 17th. Times will be planned according to Middle school’s and volunteers’ schedules. We will utilize the Middle school educational kitchen and the equipment therein. Program will be entirely funded by a HCI grant ($350 will be requested – this amount was approved for the same project last winter). However, transportation from Carleton to Middle school and back might have to be organized.
The program will be led by Vayu Maini Rekdal, who has several years of experience teaching sustainable, healthy and nutritious cooking to children. On several continents, Vayu has promoted his mission in life: to promote healthy eating for all. With experiences ranging from Marcus Samuelson’s New York flagship restaurant to Ferran Adrias food research lab in Spain, Vayu is not only a qualified educator, but also an accomplished chef.
Vayu will be assisted by volunteers drawn from his Carleton organization. At Carleton, Vayu is the president of Carleton’s first and only cooking club Firebellies, an organization that he founded as a freshman. With its over 400 members, Firebellies is one of the fastest-growing and most active clubs on the Carleton campus. Firebellies is constantly looking to expand its community involvement, and many of the members of the Firebellies board and the organization have already expressed a genuine interest in helping with this program. Volunteers will have a significant impact on the structure and execution of the program.
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