Oven-fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese and a side of homemade vanilla ice cream sounds like a menu selection from any favorite comfort food restaurant. In this case, it's the curriculum at Viking Culinary cooking school for teens during the weekly summer camp series.
Twelve budding teen chefs are participating in this week's classes as an alternative to a humdrum summer. The teens range in age from 12 to 16 and come from all over the tri-state region. For three hours each day students broaden their culinary knowledge in a state-of-the-art learning kitchen. They learn about utensils, equipment, kitchen safety, measuring, seasoning and the methods for cooking.
"Nowadays with the two-parent-working situation, there isn't a lot of cooking going on at home, so this is interesting to the kids," says Gerard Molloy, director and pastry chef at Viking Culinary Center of Garden City. "Classes like this bring cooking back to the basics; which is better in the long run."
Each day of instruction focuses on a different menu. Menus include breakfast foods like omelets and pastries, comfort foods like spaghetti and cornbread, casual dinners like lasagna and grilled steak and party pleasing appetizers.
Students bring their families on the final day of class where they demonstrate some of their new skills and prepare sample dishes to share with their guests.
For more than six years Viking has hosted kids and teens summer classes. Some students register for multiple weeks and even complete most of their summer vacation in culinary training classes. Many students return year after year, even continuing on to become professional chefs.
Some of the remaining classes are filled to capacity, but many classes still have space available. Class descriptions, prices and availability can be found on Viking's website.