June 24, 2015

Teens cooking

Teens cooking in Abingdon on June 22

BY CAROLYN R. WILSON | For the Washington County News | Posted 7 days ago

Gibson McPeek is interested in a lot of things at age 13.

He likes to camp with his family and he recently earned his black belt in karate, a long-awaited feat for the youth. But during his downtime, Gibson likes to cook. He’s even considered it as a career when he’s not thinking about the Air Force.

Gibson was one of the first youth to register for the Summer Sizzlin’ in the Kitchen, a four-day teen cooking camp from June 22-25 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

“I like learning to cook new things and meeting other people who are interested in cooking,” said the Meadowview youth, who participated in the teen cooking camp last year. He recalled one of his favorite things to make last year was zucchini chocolate cupcakes. “It’s a good hands-on experience.”

Students enjoy four days of cooking in the teaching kitchen along with local chefs and culinary experts. On the last day of the camp, the students prepare a luncheon for their guests.

“The purpose of the cooking camp is to get teens in the kitchen, let them start thinking for themselves around the stove, and to learn there are things they can make right now to contribute to their family meals,” said Jennifer Ferreira, marketing and public relations specialist at the higher education center.

On the first day, students learn how to write invitations to their parents, inviting them to come to the luncheon at the end of the week.

The students receive a broad overview including how to use a knife and kitchen utensils; how to set the oven for baking; sanitization in the kitchen; how to read a recipe; and how to set a table. “We give the students recipes they have to double or quadruple for the luncheon, so they have a little math to do,” said Ferreira.

The cooking camp, designed for ages 12 to 18, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Cost of the camp is $125 per student, but need-based scholarships may be available by contacting Jennifer Ferreira at (276) 619-4348.

Activities for each day include:

Day 1: Rise and Shine: It’s Breakfast Time!

Chef Jassen Campbell, formerly of The Troutdale Dining Room and Heartwood Restaurant, will teach basic kitchen skills including how to use a knife to chop, peel and dice; safety in the kitchen; and how to prepare breakfast foods. Students will learn different ways to prepare eggs and how to create teen-friendly and healthy breakfast recipes.

Day 2: Get Your Green On! In the Kitchen and Out.

Deni Peterson from Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) will talk to the students about incorporating fresh vegetables into daily diets. Students also will learn nutritional values and how to shop for produce. Students will make zucchini muffins, zucchini fries, tomato sauce, and a vegetable soup. They will conclude the class time by riding the Abingdon town trolley for a field trip to the ASD garden and the Abingdon Farmers Market, where they will receive a token to purchase produce at the market.

Day 3: The Sweet Side of Life!

Kelli Mehl of Mehl’s Bakery will teach the students how to make cookies, bars, turnovers, chocolate truffles, dipped strawberries, and homemade frozen yogurt. Students will make a special gift to take home.

Day 4: It’s Italian, Baby!

On the last day of the camp, Matt Shy of Mellow Mushroom will turn the classroom into an Italian feast as he teaches the students how to make homemade sauce, baked spaghetti, and his own version of dessert pizza. Students will learn how to make an accompanying salad and dressing before getting instructions on how to set a table and decorate for an Italian meal. Each student invites guests to attend the luncheon that demonstrates what he or she has learned during the week-long cooking camp.

To register online for the teen cooking camp, visit, or call the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center at (276) 619-4300.

The teen cooking camp is supported by Food City; Arrington Schelin & Munsey, PC; Dr. Mark Handy; Janet Woolwine; and The Town of Abingdon.