‘Learning a life skill:’ Kitchen & classroom are one and the same for young MPS students

MILWAUKEE -- The kitchen and the classroom are one and the same when the Youth Chef Academy is involved.

Youth Chef Academy

“They’re learning a life skill right now in sixth grade that they’re going to take with them moving forward," said Trowbridge School sixth grade teacher Richard Neustifter.

It’s a partnership between the nonprofit FoodRight and Milwaukee Public Schools. One day a week, students in certain schools spend part of their day whipping up a meal – right there on the desks.

“I’ve learned how to work together in a kitchen with people," said sixth grader Samara Summers.

Youth Chef Academy

“They know all the culinary terms like sauté and julienne," FoodRight Founder and CEO Lisa Kingery said. "When I set them free from the program, they know how to cook.”

Youth Chef Academy

“I can actually cook pretty good stuff," sixth grader Marco Ceballos affirmed. "Because I used to only know how to make PB&Js and Ramen noodles.”

A study from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services found that 37 percent of MPS high schoolers are overweight or obese. The Youth Chef Academy targets fifth-through-eighth graders.

“They eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes in the program," Kingery said. "And they walk away with kind of a changed, new perspective on food and what is good food.”

And the cooking lessons tie into the regular curriculum – Social Studies when it comes to cuisines from around the world; Literacy to read and follow a recipe; And Math when measuring ingredients or converting units.

Youth Chef Academy

“I’m always impressed with what they can do," said Neustifter. "It’s amazing to see them put it together. And the best part is tasting at the end.”

That’s of course the ultimate test – how does it taste?

“9 out of 10," Marco stated.

“I think it turned out really good," Samara added.

“I’d give it a 10-out-of-10," Neustifter finished.

A savory way to start the school day.