Last Wednesday I got a little lonesome in the upstairs offices of the Orfalea Foundation, as my coworkers were nowhere to be found. Checking everyone’s calendars, I saw that Claud Mann was at Dos Pueblos High School offering a cooking class to members of the Good Food Club, and Janet Stevenson was leading a Chef in the Garden lesson at El Camino Elementary. We’re big believers that children should know where food comes from and teenagers should know how to cook, so I grabbed a camera and headed to Goleta to document the lessons.

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Chef Claud instructs high school student Ethan on how to make a French omelet in fifty-eight seconds.

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Claud combines technique (using the flat of the fork to keep the egg moving, but not scrambled), nutrition information, food history, and the charm of a television host (look up TBS Dinner and a Movie).

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Ethan grates cheese to melt into his omelet while hungry club-mates watch.

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Technically, the omelet dance is not part of the lesson, but seems to occur spontaneously when teenage athletes have cooked something delicious and nutritious for themselves.

Claud showed students how to use basic ingredients and skills to make a wholesome meal – with just about one minute of cooking. I left the high school and made my way to El Camino Elementary’s school garden.

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I caught up with Chef Janet at the El Camino Elementary School Garden.

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The day’s lesson was on food systems, showing children different ways the food from their garden might find its way into kitchens or packages.

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Here, students represent different facets of the food system, including farmers, harvesters, processors, wholesalers, retailers, transporters, consumers, and waste managers.

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No Chef in the Garden lesson is complete without a treat from the garden. Here, Chef Janet shows students how she “quick pickles” vegetables.

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I grew up a picky eater, so I’m always impressed by how willing these young students are to try produce from their garden.

Evidence is mounting that knowing how to cook plays a significant role in long-term health, and we are very proud to be giving kids in Santa Barbara County a chance to take greater control of their own health through food literacy and cooking skills.

Dean Zatkowsky is Communications Manager for the Orfalea Foundation