Library to offer culinary programs for teens
This spring, Heights Libraries will launch a new program series for teens about cooking and healthy eating. Teen Cooking 101, a four-part, monthly series, will take place March through June during after-school hours and will cover topics such as food safety and nutrition, and teach skills such as measuring and knife handling.
While these won’t be the first cooking-related programs at the library, they will be the first to focus on culinary education.
“We have offered food and cooking-centered programs for teens in the past, including the Teen Chopped Challenge, the Teen Ramen Bar and the Soups of the World series, all of which have been very popular,” said Youth Services Librarian Sarah Rosenberger, who developed the series. “While these programs have been fun and have introduced teens to new foods and culinary cultures, we feel that there is an opportunity to impart even more knowledge in these areas with a more long-term, in-depth culinary literacy program.”
Local chef Marie Finch will teach the classes. Finch graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition, and has five years’ experience as a chef. She currently works at Culinary Occasions, a catering company in South Euclid.
“Children need programs like this in the community,” said Finch, who participated in similar community-based educational programs as an undergrad. “These programs offer more than just cooking experience—they allow children to use basic math and science through measuring and mixing. They also teach children life skills and promote self-confidence and responsibility.”
Thanks to a generous donation from the Heights Library’s Youth Services Department purchased equipment for the programs, including pots, pans, induction burners, blenders, scales, measuring cups and spoons, and bowls and knives. The equipment will allow program participants to accomplish tasks as simple as boiling ramen noodles and as complex as sauteeing carefully chopped meat and vegetables.
“Few schools offer home economics classes anymore, so there's a basic knowledge gap about food and food preparation,” said Rosenberger. “Culinary literacy programs are great opportunities for teens to learn about food safety, cooking and nutrition, and to gain knowledge they can really use in their lives, whether for a job or just cooking for themselves.”
In addition to helping local teens, the program also meets two of the library’s strategic goals: to provide opportunities to positively impact community members’ growth and personal development; and to be a bridge builder for community concerns, in this case between teens and local businesses looking to hire skilled workers.
“The ultimate outcomes we hope to achieve with this program are increased knowledge of food and nutrition, as well as the development of important culinary life skills for our local teens,” said Rosenberger. “Plus, it’s fun and delicious.”
For more information, visit www.heightslibrary.org and watch for the spring issue of the library’s programming guide, Check Us Out, in mid-February.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.