Rapheal Skinner of Macon may be only 10 years old, but he thinks he has a pretty good idea of what he’d like to do later in life.
“I want to have my own restaurant; I want to do it when I grow up. I’d like to open it in Columbus,” said the young cook. Much of the confidence behind his proclamation comes from the Mississippi University for Women Kids Culinary Camp Rapheal attended with other fourth- through sixth-graders June 8-12.
“Every day he had something new and exciting to tell me,” said Velda Skinner, his mother, on Monday. “He came back knowing how to operate the oven and use knives. He cooked Sunday dinner for us, with bacon-wrapped shrimp appetizers, a casserole, muffins … just by going a week.”
Chef Lauren Williams leads this summer’s culinary camp, which consists of three one-week sessions for specific grade groups. Campers focus on working successfully as a team, basic nutrition and kitchen skills, understanding and following recipes, organizational and clean-up skills — and enjoying the experience of tasting new foods, developing their “flavor memory palate.”
“Every morning we began with a new ingredient to get the taste buds working,” Chef Lauren told family members attending a celebratory luncheon Friday, the final day of this group’s session. “We’ve had a really fun week.”
Soups to table manners
Topics covered at camp included breakfast foods, soups, salads, appetizers, vegetables, sides and sauces and cake decorating. There’s etiquette and table setting, too. Kids hear about the difference between a chef’s knife and a sheep’s foot blade, between a bias-round cut and fine julienne cut, between broiling and braising. Each child goes home with a comprehensive book of what he or she covered during the week, complete with recipes the teams prepared.
Linda Speed of Columbus encouraged her 11-year-old granddaughter, Millie Speed of Pontotoc, to sign up for the session.
“We’re her tasters,” Linda smiled, referring to herself and other members of Millie’s family who stayed in her home for the week. The payoff was tasty; campers brought home goodies every day.
“After the first day, they [Millie’s siblings] couldn’t wait to see what she’d bring,” Linda said Friday at the luncheon. Brother Chance’s favorites were the cake balls. Lindsey Jo voted for her sister’s cupcakes. Jack liked Millie’s fresh baked bread. Dad Michael was partial to the chocolate truffles.
As for Millie: “I loved cooking new things!” she said.
Friday’s luncheon was an opportunity for campers to prepare and serve a buffet lunch for family members in Shattuck Hall on the MUW campus. The feast was preceded by Chef Lauren’s presentation of certificates and the distinctive tall chefs’ toques — hats — to proud participants. When the signal came for lunch, they eagerly lined up behind the buffet table to serve.
Camper Chloe Richardson of Caledonia was one of the polite hosts, helping fill the plates of her parents, Mike and Jennifer Richardson.
“Her confidence level has gone way up,” Chloe’s dad said of the 10-year-old. “She’s already informed us she knows how to cook spaghetti all by herself.”
If the buzz in the room and smiles on campers’ faces were any barometer, it’s safe to say most of them feel like Rapheal Skinner, who pronounced, “I can’t wait to come back next year!”
Interested in camp?
To learn more about the 2016 MUW Kids Culinary Camp, visit muw.edu/outreach/youth/culinarycamp. Or contact the MUW Culinary Arts Institute by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 662-241-7472.
Read on for a few of the recipes used by the campers, courtesy of Chef Lauren Williams.
BACON-WRAPPED BARBECUE SHRIMP
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 slices bacon
Barbecue seasoning, to taste
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh minced parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh dill
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.