LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -
This is the 7th year for the Angelina County Extension Office Healthy Kids Chef Camp, which runs from July 7 - July 10, from 9 AM – Noon.
"And they're learning cooking skills. They're learning food safety," explained Joel Redus, Texas A&M University's AgriLife Extension Agent in Family and Consumer Sciences. "They're learning nutrition. And they're also cooking some really good food and also having a lot of fun."
There are 18 lucky mini chefs between the ages of 8 and 12, who made the cut for this year's camp. They are learning how math and science works in the kitchen.
"It's a lot of science and math involved. Buttermilk you can substitute with lemon juice and milk because of the acidity," said Nyssa Galatas, a 6th grader from Nacogdoches.
Her friend, Alexandra Smith, who is also a 6th grader from Nacogdoches added, "We had to do a lot of measuring and stuff, so I think that would help with whenever we do match and stuff."
Redus, who also has several volunteers and staffers helping out—including his wife Michelle Redus—said demand was high to get into the camp.
"We definitely had a lot more interested, but that's all we could handle," Redus said about his second year coordinating the chef camp.
For four days the kids rotate to three different stations. And at each station they prepare a meal in 45 minutes. The $40 registration fee covers the food for dishes prepared by the kids.
Macy McManus, Lufkin, a 4th grader at Slack Elementary, said she's enjoying the camp.
"I like the kitchen part. When we get to like melt things, put it in the oven and fry them and all that."
The budding health enthusiasts also get to chop, open and taste things, which is also expanding their food palates.
"We're making vegetarian quesadillas and they're learning how to use the knives safely and how to work around a hot skillet safely," Ryan Merrel, a County Extension Agent – 4-H and Youth Development said while being jostled by a mini chef trying to get him to sing while being interviewed on camera.
Along with the vegetarian quesadilla, on Thursday, the campers also prepared a chicken salad with barbecue and ranch dressing, fresh salsa and a Skillet Gnocchi.
"I actually thought it would taste weird, but it actually taste pretty good," Jakob Cuevas, a 7th grader from Nacogdoches said about his surprised taste discovery. "I'm not really a fan of potatoes but it tastes pretty good.
With expanding food parameters, these kids are also creating healthy eating habits they can share at home. This includes leaving with leftovers every day they take home in takeout containers