Harford Magazine - Page 16 - Food for thought

Harford Magazine
- Page 16
Food for thought

At young Chefs Academy, kids learn cooking skills and sample new dishes


By KAthi sANtorA
For harford magazine


For any parent who has struggled to get their children to try new foods, the Young Chefs Academy in Bel Air offers a solution: Have them prepare it, and maybe they’ll not only sample it, but actually like it.


This was on display recently at the cooking school as eight middle-schoolers prepared and devoured a “vegetable abundance bowl” with spicy tahini salad dressing.


Zach Archer, 13, has eaten many new foods during the year that he has taken the weekly classes.


“Ninety percent of the food here I have never tried before and never ever thought about,” the Bel Air Middle School student says. “Like fish sauce—it doesn’t smell the best, but it tastes amazing.”


Anthony Bell, the academy’s operations manager and a trained pastry chef, says Young Chefs Academy helps children to expand their food choices along with instilling cooking skills.


“There have been quite a few picky eaters come through,” he says. “We tell them you don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.”


He adds that often children are surprised by what they like.


“If they still don’t like it, I will ask what they don’t like and what would they change to make it better,” he says. “We get them thinking about food.”


Like Zach, many of the students in the class on this recent night have taken the weekly classes since the school opened a year ago in downtown Bel Air. Anthony Bell’s father, Adam Bell, owns the academy and coaches this particular group. They are versed in food handling, kitchen safety, measuring and many cooking techniques and know their way around the two stainless-steel worktables.


He reminds them to assemble ingredients in the recipe’s order: “That way, you don’t forget anything.”


They fetch ingredients from cupboards, check and recheck the recipe and measure