by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)

Cooking Classes For Kids – Pear Tree Style

by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)

Multidisciplinary Cooking Classes for Kids

Each day, one of Pear Tree Elementary’s students are receiving private cooking classes. In fact, they’re learning to do at lot more than cook!

Shown below is Kloe, who signed up to be the first student to participate in this awesome learning experience. She was to help make a rustic Italian vegetarian dish: Cabbage, Potato, Onion and Cannellini beans.

As part of these one-to-one cooking classes, Pear Tree’s students learn about the different between commercial and domestic cooking, i.e. cooking for lots of people. Kloe first learned about the use of spreadsheets to calculate the total quantity of ingredients required for a specific number of people.

This is math in action! It’s not enough to simply look at a spreadsheet. You have to know if the information you’re looking at is accurate and makes logical sense.

“At Pear Tree Elementary, our students learn hands-on through meaningful activities that require various types of subject matters and skills. We rarely learn anything in isolation, because real life isn’t that simple.” Paul Romani, Pear Tree’s director

Kloe then went along to the local greengrocers to purchase the necessary ingredients. On the way, we discussed why we would make the smart decision to shop at a greengrocers rather than take the lazy option of going somewhere like Safeway to buy all of our food. She learned hands-on how to select good quality produce and what not to get. It was also a little test to see if Kloe knew what food looks like as raw products.

Next, Kloe learned about basic food safety: the importance of hand washing, knife safety, and cross contamination.

Then, she learned how to prepare all of the various ingredients – a very time consuming task when you’re cooking for so many people and certainly not very glamorous! One of the most time consuming parts was cutting up the cabbages. She learned how to prepare the cabbages, including removing the stem, and how to cut them quickly and efficiently. She peeled and diced the potatoes, and finely chopped the onions.

The next stage was to learn the concept of cooking in batches – something that also sets commercial cooking apart. You can’t cook huge amounts of cabbage all in one go!

Kloe also learned about multi-tasking and collaboration. Commercial cooking often requires doing two or more things in rotation. While one ingredient is cooking, you’re preparing the next ingredient, and so on. Likewise, in a commercial kitchen, one person doesn’t cook the entire meal from start to finish. It’s a team effort. One person prepares one part of the meal, while another person prepares another part. In larger kitchens, yet another person would plate the food.

Finally, Kloe had to work on giving a presentation to the rest of the school about the meal she was preparing. This required learning how to use Google Slides to create the presentation, importing pictures within this software, and researching the nutritional benefits of each ingredient using Google Search.

A very important aspect of this stage was learning to select appropriate information and to paraphrase that information. If Kloe didn’t understand what she was reading, what chance did the little kids stand?! Using expressions such saying that ‘Cabbage is brain food’ made her language use accessible to her audience.

Within the span of 2 hours, Kloe had practiced math, science, language arts, technology, cooking and public speaking – as well as a heap of other life and money skills.

Cooking classes at Pear Tree Elementary are unlike anything you’ll find in any other private school.

Well done Kloe!