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Ricks students get cooking

Students from DU's Ricks Center learned cooking skills at Denver's Seasoned Chef Cooking School during a recent intersession.

Aspiring chefs from DU’s Ricks Center for Gifted Children received a weeklong series of cooking lessons — including spending time with a professional chef —  during a special week called “intersession” for 5th–8th graders.

During intersession, teachers create classes designed to encourage students to pursue a passion or discover a new one.

Ricks teacher Pamela Reich has organized a cooking class for the past five years.

“The kitchen is the center of the home,” Reich says.  “It’s the place where people gather to exchange news, share stories and spend time with each other. In the kitchen, customs and traditions are passed on from one generation to the next. The kitchen is also a wonderfully rich educational environment and is the perfect setting to learn about history, experience different cultures, apply mathematics in a practical way and understand chemistry.”

Reich says students also get a side benefit.

“We learn about nutrition and balanced menu planning,” she says. “They also develop lifelong culinary skills that will support them in preparing meals that are inviting as well as wholesome.”

Instructing the chefs-in-training was Dan Witherspoon from the Denver’s Seasoned Chef Cooking School. Besides mixing and measuring, the students learned about the regional Mediterranean cuisines of France and Italy. Witherspoon helped the students prepare panna cotta with raspberry sauce, penne pasta with creamy blue cheese and mushroom sauce and stuffed chicken breasts Athenian with rice pilaf. There even was banquet for parents.

“Creating a meal together takes teamwork and provides students with leadership opportunities,” Reich says. “More importantly, they are learning how to cook up their own kitchen stories, traditions and friendships.”

Cooking wasn’t the students’ only passion during the intersession. The students also participated in drama, movie making, pop culture, zoology, steampunk and poetry classes.


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