Genesis: Pathways to Success Preps Future Chefs at Science Behind Cooking Camp

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 at 10:23 AM

By Genesis: Pathways to Success, news release

Thirty students gathered at South Ripley HS to learn about the rich culture of Italy through Italian cuisine.

Photo provided.

(Ripley County, Ind.) - Genesis: Pathways to Success opened its second month of a Summer of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) programming this week with The Science Behind Cooking Camp. Thirty students gathered at South Ripley High School to learn about the rich culture of Italy through Italian cuisine.  

Over the course of three days, students followed the five courses served during an Italian meal. These young chefs kicked off their cooking exploration by making antipasto, or appetizer, and contorno, or salad. Students made crostinis, focaccia bread, bruschetta, chicken and gnocchi soup, and Italian salad. By making these meals students experienced firsthand the importance of combining textures and flavors with various vegetables, seasonings, and food groups. 

Camp progressed to the third course: primo, the first main course. In Italian culture, primo is traditionally a pasta dish, therefore students made homemade ravioli, meatballs, and Alfredo sauce. Junior chefs formed, kneaded, and cut the dough for the ravioli and then filled the raviolis with a cheese filling. Following this, they molded and rolled their meatballs, cooking them to a perfect brown. By cooking this meal from scratch, campers witnessed each individual ingredient contained in their meal, thus allowing them to comprehend and see the chemical changes that turn ingredients into the desired results. 

The last courses the students tackled were secondo, second main, and dolce, desert. Students cut, prepared, and breaded chicken breasts to make chicken parmesan, while also concocting their own marinara sauce. In addition to this, campers formed the dough for zeppole, a doughnut-like treat, and biscotti, a long cookie. With these tasty delights, students experienced the delicious entrees that encapsulate Italian cuisine, not strictly pasta.  

In addition to expanding the students’ cultural awareness, The Science Behind Cooking Camp emphasizes the basic chemistry concepts involved in the kitchen. Jenny Schneider, chemistry teacher at Oldenburg Academy, echoed the camp’s purpose, “Everyone can learn to cook, but not everyone knows the chemistry involved in the process. This camp showed how they can build flavors from the herbs, spices, and seasonings, while still emphasizing the basic chemistry concepts that allow that to happen. For example, when making pasta sauce, the sauce needed to sit for around 2 hours to allow its unique mixture of flavors to come together. The process of stirring and letting the chemical compounds of the mixture form is basic chemistry, which is something that often gets overlooked. Chemistry extends beyond the cooking aspect of this camp; it is in the preparation as well. If we do not store or wash the ingredients properly, we run the risk of allowing bacteria to grow and contaminate the students and their cooking space. This camp encapsulates the science of cooking in every possible way.”  

The Science Behind Cooking Camp’s approach to the kitchen has directly altered how these student’s view their meals. Allie Swinney, incoming 6th grader at South Ripley Junior High, stated, “I loved learning how to make the different foods, but I never realized how bread rises or why dough forms the way it does. It makes me want to learn more about chemistry and how it is used in other foods.” 

Genesis: Pathways to Success would like to thank the South Ripley Community School Corporation for welcoming us into their space and for continuing to host A Summer of STREAM programming. We would like to give a special thanks to our sponsors: Honda, The Versailles-Tyson Fund, Tri Kappa, and the Versailles Lions Club. We would also like to thank our volunteers from schools across Southeast Indiana, including South Ripley, Jac-Cen-Del, Milan, South Dearborn, and Oldenburg Academy. Thank you for passionately sharing your knowledge and expertise, and for encouraging education locally! Genesis looks forward to hosting The Science Behind Cooking Camp again in the summer of 2025. 

If you would like to learn additional information about this summer camp, please visit www.genesisp2s.org.  If you have questions regarding A Summer of STREAM, please contact the Genesis: Pathways to Success Office by emailing info@genesisp2s.org, calling 812-933-1098, or visiting 13 E. George Street, Suite B, Batesville, IN 47006. 

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