PITTSBORO - This summer, local youth will get a taste of life as modern-day chefs when Central Carolina Community College hosts the Natural Chef Youth Nutrition and Sustainability Camp.
Specifically designed to engage economically disadvantaged students ages eight-to-14, this four-day camp will teach them about sustainable culinary practices, natural foods and the personal art of working in the kitchen.
The camp will host 30 students per week and will run 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday on the college's Chatham County Campus, 764 West St., Pittsboro. Two sessions are offered: July 8 through July 11 and July 15 through July 18. It is open to youth in Chatham, Lee and Harnett counties with scholarships available for qualifying youth who are residents of Chatham County.
Registration opens April 10 and spaces will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and scholarship opportunities, visit www.cccc.edu/culinaryarts and click on "Culinary Kids Summer Camps" or email Chef Gregg Hamm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Education about food and nutrition is very important to the health of our community," said CCCC Chatham Provost Dr. Karen Allen. "The Natural Chef Youth Camp is a special opportunity for young people to learn how to choose healthy foods and prepare meals that will benefit the entire family."
Hamm, chair of CCCC's Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department, calls the camp a "youth-version" of the college's culinary arts curriculum, which specializes in sustainability and natural health and emphasizes the use of locally raised natural, organic, and whole foods.
"We enjoy working with the students to help them set the pace for their future in nutritious living and even in a culinary career," said Hamm. "We want to teach them how to make the choices they can make for themselves."
As part of their education in sustainability, camp students will visit the CCCC sustainable agriculture on-campus farm to harvest food for cooking and will participate in interactive biofuels demonstrations. They will also tour Cohen Farm and Lilly-Den Farm, the two organic-practicing Chatham County farms from which the CCCC culinary programs purchase some of their goods.
"In this way," Hamm said, "students will be exposed to local farmers and agriculture, thereby enhancing their understanding of the farming side of nutrition and how things grow."
Lessons in practical skills and natural chef techniques will also give students what Hamm calls "the interactive experience of what it's like to be a chef."
These lessons will take place in the state-of-the-art green kitchen at the campus and will include preparing healthy meals and snacks, understanding basic cooking skills, and practicing kitchen safety. Students will learn how to prepare safe/sanitary meals, create menus, and make nutritious food choices. They will use the campus farm's outdoor pizza kitchen to bake the pizzas they will make.
At the end of the camp week, students will combine their newly acquired sustainable culinary skills with philanthropy and community service. Camp students will prepare and serve a free meal to needy members of the community in partnership with The Abundance Foundation, an area nonprofit organization focused on sustainability education.
Chef Hamm and the CCCC Culinary Arts Chef Staff will teach the camp along with work-study students from the culinary arts program. Two bilingual high-school interns will also help with the camp, serving as mentors and promoting program leadership.
Summer 2013 will be the camp's 12th year, its second since moving from Lee County to Chatham County.
The 2013 camp and its scholarships are funded by a grant from the Triangle Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties since 1983. The largest general funder of Triangle-area nonprofits, TCF uses philanthropic innovation to promote local thinking, community leadership, and collaboration among diverse environments.
Chef Gregory Hamm, chair of CCCC's Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department, will head the teaching team for Central Carolina Community College's summer Natural Chef Youth Nutrition and Sustainability Camp. Registration opens April 10. For more information and scholarship opportunities, visit www.cccc.edu/culinaryarts and click on "Culinary Kids Summer Camps" or email Chef Gregg Hamm at email@example.com.