During every kitchen class students take part in preparing the ingredients, cooking, and setting the table. We like every student to have the opportunity to try any and all of the jobs they are excited about. Choosing recipes with plenty of cooking jobs ensures that our students stay focused and engaged for the entire kitchen class. Kitchen jobs, of course, change depending on what is being prepared. When planning a lesson, the kitchen teachers read through the recipe and discuss what the cooking jobs will be. Ingredients typically determine how each recipe is divided up into cooking jobs, but cooking jobs are often flexible and are contingent on the interests and skills of the students.
If there is not enough work to keep all the students engaged for the entire period, we often add vegetables, typically greens, to the recipe. However, if there is still not enough work for all of the students, we will consider adding a second recipe that will complement the first. For example, when we made Quick Irish Soda Bread with our students, the cooking groups finished the recipe so quickly that the students did not have enough to do while the bread baked in the oven. We then decided to add a homemade Chai that could be served with the soda bread.
Once the steps of the recipe have been explained, chef teachers hand the execution over to the students. The chef teacher’s role is to ensure safety and cooperation and to prompt students and offer reminders. All the mincing, measuring, stirring, and cleaning should be done by the students.
Sometimes there are lulls once a student has finished his/her task. Here are some examples of auxiliary cooking jobs students complete during down time:
- Create a centerpiece for the table
- Fold napkins
- Slice lemons or harvest mint for the water