East Bay Winter Camp 2016

Now THAT was one heck of a culinary whirlwind! Thank you so much for sharing your talented, enthusiastic and beautifully-mannered aspiring chefs with us! It was a true pleasure to have them on our kitchen crew, cooking up a storm and working together like professionals!
Please enjoy this recap of camp! Here is the link to our Google Photo Album for the week – we will be adding more pictures to it so check back to see if more have been uploaded!
Day One! (Sunday)
The excitement and curiosity in everyone’s faces made for the perfect start to the day! We started off introducing ourselves with names and favorite foods before diving in to make butternut squash gnocchi with Sprouts’ very own Chef-in-Training, Christina! First we learned and reviewed our knife skills, how to keep a clean and safe kitchen, and how to respect our fellow chefs and friends in our work space…all essentials to a day in the life of any chef!
We then learned why it is important to buy our food from local farmer’s markets and about the importance of seasonality in our cooking, which all helped to explain why we were cooking a winter squash that day! Next, we peeled, chopped, diced, and seasoned our butternut squash (one heck of a task for little chefs’ hands as you probably know – one which they executed safely and beautifully!) and left it to roast while we moved to the core part of our meal.
Chef Christina taught us how to peel boiled potatoes in order to prepare the gnocchi dough to which we added all the remaining ingredients and kneaded until it was ready to roll out and cut into the final product! Once each ball of dough was rolled out, cut and, shaped we dropped them in water to watch gnocchi magic happen! It was so fun to watch the individual gnocchi float up to the surface. Once they were done, we sautéed them with olive oil and rosemary and finally plated our masterpiece! This all called for a well-deserved break and time to eat!
After we took a break to get some fresh air, move our bodies and play some games, we returned to the kitchen and to chef mode. Then our very own Sprouts chef, Adriana, taught us how to cook a candied orange olive oil cake!
To do so we started by thinly slicing our oranges before preparing to candy them and make our syrup with cardamom and agave in boiling water! Chef Adriana taught us what ingredients like baking soda and powder actually do when mixed into cake batter. We also learned that it was especially important for this recipe to break down the ingredients in order to achieve the fluffiest batter and cake! After waiting for the cake to bake and rise we took it out of the oven and poured over our syrup to achieve the spongy texture of a true olive oil cake. Finally, we split into groups to decorate each cake with our candied oranges and more syrup, and sliced it to eat!! Wow, what an incredibly rewarding process, we all thought!
We had the most wonderful day learning, creating, and tasting new things that we hope your kids will try at home! It was incredible to see your aspiring chefs work together to cook such delicious dishes and share the process and final product so nicely with each other!
Day Two! (Monday)
Today we cooked up a storm at Kitchen on Fire! We were so honored to get to hangout with Chef Travis from Starline for the whole day! We really got to see into the mind of a chef and learn awesome things.
We first started with making sure our cooking area was clean and our ingredients were ready to be prepped. Then Chef Travis reinforced our knowledge of knife skills and gave us some safety tips!
Chef Travis then led a super cool demonstration of how emulsification works (using egg whites and oil) and then we all got make our very own aioli and spice it up however we wanted! Some kiddos put lemon in, some put loads of garlic in, and others added a kick with some hot sauce! Everyone’s aioli looked and tasted so yummy!
We got plenty of cutting and peeling practice in this class using a variety of veggies like winter and summer squash, onions, green beans, and chives! Then it was time to make Tempura!! We had so much fun learning how to make tempura batter – and all the little chefs loved the fact that sparkling water is a major component to it – that’s what makes it so airy! Then we took turns dunking our veggies in batter, and dropping them carefully into our super hot oil! Even though we made some scrumptions creations, the kiddos were most impressed by “crunchies” – the leftover tempura batter bits in the oil that taste super rich and get, well… crunchy 🙂
Whew! After all that we worked to make sure our kitchen was super clean again, and took a little break for play time! Then it was back to cookin up a storm!

As a team, we then all made Chocolate Bark that we could personalize! Some preferred graham crackers on their side, while others were all about the peppermint crumbles! We had tart cherries in the mix and extra sprinkles too! Chef Travis showed us how to properly melt dark chocolate with a double boiler technique, then we spread out the yummy chocolate, put our toppings on and put it in the fridge to harden! Our next step was to do the same thing with white chocolate then spread it onto the hardened dark chocolate. We also made caramel sauce with sugar, water and oil – it got so thick and delicious! Everyone wanted extra, even the kiddos who didn’t know if they liked caramel before this!
The kiddos were so helpful cleaning this day and we had a total blast together!
Day Three! (Tuesday)
Field trip day! We had quite the adventure in the big city on Tuesday 🙂
We started our culinary adventure by visiting the Ferry Building for a Scavenger hunt where we talked to vendors, tasted samples and even got to pick out produce from the market for our class later in the day! Huge thanks to everyone we learned from, especially Beekind Honey, Acme Bread, and Dandelion Chocolate!
After our tour, we then made our way to the Mission District to work in the amazing space above Trick Dog! Sprouts Cooking Club founder, Karen Rogers visited the class to introduce herself and our professional guests, Alfie (from Trick Dog) and Christian (from Nopa)! Alfie taught us how to make rockin’ shrubs (tarter syrups) and Christian showed us how to apply our emulsification skills to making dressing.
For shrubs, we started with just a tad bit of rich simple syrup. Simple syrup is normally equal parts sugar and water, but rich simple syrup is two parts sugar to one part water! Then we personalized our shrubs with ingredients like lemon, raspberries, rosemary, strawberry puree, grapefruit and juices! After we got the flavor right we added vinegar to our shrubs, most kiddos preferred to add apple cider vinegar, but Alfie likes to use sherry vinegar 🙂 Then we strained our shrubs over ice, and topped them off with sparkling water – talk about refreshing and delicious!
We also got to make Panzanella – a dish that is smart for restaurants (and everyone) to use since it calls for day old bread (perfect for soaking up dressing while maintaining some crunch). We broke off the recipe a bit so we could experiment with other ingredients in our salad! We talked about things like which flavors compliment each other and why that is! We tried items in our salad like pomegranate, parsley, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, cucumbers and apples in our salad! It was amazing to see how adventurous the kiddos got when mixing things together, both in their individual shrubs and in their salads! It was quite the adventurous day and definitely a lot of fun!
Day Four! (Wednesday)
We started our day at Homeroom, where Chef Allison showed us how to make their signature mac & cheese from scratch! Allison showed us how all of their mac & cheeses start with Bechamel sauce, and sprouting chefs sampled six different kinds of cheeses, learning how each one melted and contributed to flavor, to start to customize their dishes. After a little prep work, we broke off into groups and chose our mac & cheese mix-ins – then Homeroom gave us some of their most popular macs to sample!
Our next stop was Chef Chloe’s house in Berkeley, where we made egg hash, learned about fresh and dried herbs, tried apple fennel slaw, and roasted yams and spaghetti squash. Most everyone was pleasantly surprised that they liked fennel, which most of the kiddos said they had never tried before! We finished off the day by playing the Spice Game, where everyone tried to identify different spices based upon their look and smell without seeing the label.
A full day filled with lots of yummy goodness!
Day Five! (Thursday)
Today we met up with Chef Solomon (or Chef Swoop, as he’s known by his friends) for a day of cooking in his cozy condo. We started off with baked chicken—we worked the breasts in a homemade marinade until they were tender. Then, we chopped up some vegetables and put them in the oven with the chicken. Chef Swoop even gave us a lesson in honing the knife blade!
We also made a squash puree, which proved a vital element of our next activity: plating. Chef Swoop taught us the importance of food visuals—“eating with our eyes”—and gave us some tips on how to make a balanced and aesthetically pleasing plate. He showed us several ways to plate the puree, and then sent us on our way. Each team plated the morning’s food in unique and creative ways. The final products were photographed professionally – one is featured below!
After eating our delicious creations (while watching an episode of Chopped) we headed out to the beach armed with cups of cocoa. We enjoyed the sand and the sun, and played some tag before heading back to the kitchen.
The final part of the day was devoted to taste. Chef Swoop gave a presentation about the five main ones: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. We put our knowledge and our palates to the test by doing a blind tasting of different herbs, spices, and fruits. We had so much fun guessing what we were eating, and talking about the tastes we’d just learned all about.
All in all, we had an amazing week filled with lots of learning and plenty of munching 🙂 What more could we ask for?  It was incredible to share these moments with your aspiring chefs and hope that they stay busy, safe, and curious in the kitchen at home!