Monday, July 23, 2012

The Art of Cooking meets the Art of Teaching...Awesome Stuff !

    It has been a few days since my last post, hasn't it? Well, I took a little break and flew out to Chicago for a few days to visit family and friends. It was quite the exhausting weekend and I must say that I am glad I can sleep in my own bed tonight!
    Anyhow, while I was in Chicago, I had the opportunity to take a look inside the talent and work of my younger brother. And today I am going to highlight the awesome work that he is doing with kids these days.
   He is currently attending culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago, and works at an awesome place called The Chopping Block, on the north side of Chicago.  The Chopping Block is a recreational cooking school and a gourmet shop. It offers hands on cooking classes for adults and children. My brother, George, works as a Lead Chef Instructor for Teen & Kids Camp.
    He invited me to attend the final day of the Teen Cooking Camp that runs weekly throughout the summer. The weekly camp consists of kids between the ages of 11-16 years old.
    By being there for the final day of their week, I could see that the kids had learned so much from him in a week; from Day 1 when he teaches knife skills to how to break down a recipe,  all the way through to Day 5 where the kids partake in his own version of an Iron Chef Competition; which is what I was honored to be a Guest Judge!
    He has expressed an interest in getting his certification in teaching to go along with his culinary degree, and so as I watched him  do his thing, I have to say that his unorthrodox teaching techniques remind me of School of Rock meets Good Eats... But it is quite fun and effective and I was able to see the end product of the work he is doing with kids this summer, at the Iron Chef Competition.
    I noticed firsthand how each member of each team contributed. Each person or pair took something from the menu and focused on it, while working together and communicating the whole time (2 hours) to prepare, cook and present their dish. (Under the supervision and guidance of George and his aide)
I was TRULY impressed!
Check out some of these dishes:
Team Spain:
Albodingas (Meatballs) Virgin Sangria, Spanish Butter Cookies (Dessert)
Team New Zealand:
Grilled Leg of Lamb Steaks w/Grilled Vegetables and Pavalova Cake (Dessert)
Team Greece:
Saganaki, Cinnamon Braised Leg of Lamb & Potatoes, Pita Bread, Deconstructed Bakhlava w/ Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream (Dessert)
Team American Gastro Pub:
Southwest Steak Slider, Philly Cheesesteak Slider & Bbq Steak Slider w/ Chipotle Chips, Orange Iced Tea
    Keep in mind that these dishes were all cooked and presented by kids between the ages of 11-16. Wow, huh? Don't they just make your mouth water? Doesn't this just make you super jealous? They sure made me look bad! I could take a few cooking lessons from them!! =)
     The winners of the Iron Chef Competition this week was: Team Greece
     AWESOME job all around, from both the kids and George! I felt like pointing at him and saying "Yup, that's my brother!" 
Food, teaching and kids: That is George's passion!
    Am I a little proud of him for choosing to pursue a career that deals with teaching children? 
You bet!
     It was quite the experience to see the art of cooking and the art of teaching, together in one place! 

For more information about The Chopping Block and to read more about the Kids & Teen Cooking Camps, visit The Chopping Blog where George has his own weekly blog. 

    Hope you all enjoyed reading something different from me today!

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