Cooking up a batch of fun

Kids get a taste for preparing cuisine at Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp

Shaley Mahan, 12, heats honey mustard for a chicken marinade during the Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp at Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. More photos can be found at arkansasonline.com/galleries.
Shaley Mahan, 12, heats honey mustard for a chicken marinade during the Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp at Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. More photos can be found at arkansasonline.com/galleries.

Shaley Mahan, 12, watched the honey mustard combination ooze off of her spoon with excitement and wonder as the marinade for a chicken dish came together.

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Student Scarlett Mahar, 8, watches as chef Suzanne Campbell seasons a salad dressing with salt during the Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp at Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute.

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Natalie Mattson, 9, sneaks a taste of a chocolate mousse dessert.

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Students including Allison Sutherland (second from right), 9, and Isabel Mosley (right), 10, fill their plates with pancakes, sausage and fruit made by the students.

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Chef Tonya Hollifield (second from left) with students Jayna Murphy (left), 11, Erin McNamer, 10, and Delaney Swinton (right), 11, make a dough during the Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp.

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Chef Jolie Mosley (left) watches student Daniel Rosson, 17, flip a pancake.

Shaley and about 20 other young chefs got the chance to spend five days cooking dishes from appetizers to desserts during the Youth Chefs Culinary Summer Camp at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in July.

Aspen Smith, 11, said the camp is helping her advance her skills in the kitchen.

"I really like to cook. I did this camp once before. I really want to be a baker whenever I grow up," Aspen said.

Instruction comes from chefs and staff at the institute, each teaching a group throughout the week. The large, open kitchen with four long stations allows the students to easily move around and watch what other groups are preparing.

Students, complete with chef coats, rotate through various stations perfecting their skills. They learn proper knife technique, a variety of cooking methods and how to maintain a clean kitchen. And they get to taste the items prepared each day as part of their breakfast, snack and lunch.

This day, the menu included whole wheat pancakes, sausage and fruit for breakfast and hummus for the snack. Lunch would be the honey mustard chicken, succotash, and a chocolate mousse for dessert.

While desserts, ice cream and pie are popular with the young chefs, Shaley counts the gnocchi with pesto among her favorites.

The end of each week culminates in a luncheon with a three-course meal prepared and served by the students to a guest invited by each student.

William Rowen, 14, talked about the camp as he cleaned corn under running water before cutting it off the cob for succotash.

"It's been fun. I learned lots of new recipes."

William says he plans on being a chef at some point in his life.

The culinary camp continues through Friday.

Family on 08/05/2015