At this year's Art of Cooking benefit dinner, over 225 supporters of The Sylvia Center gathered together to celebrate the teen graduates of our new Culinary Apprenticeship program, for their dedication to teaching healthy cooking to the youth in their own communities, and to honor Sam Sifton, Food Editor for The New York Times, for his belief in the health and human benefits of fresh food for young people and families everywhere.
The 25 teen Culinary Apprentices completed an intensive, 60-hour culinary and food systems course, and learned how to teach a simplified version of TSC's curriculum. Over the summer, the teens taught over 800 youth in their own communities how to cook healthy, delicious food.
Inspired by his persuasive promotion of simple home cooking in The New York Times, we invited Sam Sifton to join with our Culinary Apprentices onstage at The Art of Cooking for a fun and informal critique of the seasonal side dishes they prepared for the evening's meal. The teens demonstrated their skills and knowledge, and learned a few "professional" tips from Sam too -- from how long it really takes to caramelize onions (double what the recipe says) to the enduring appeal of a kale salad.
We have long had the vision that eventually the students we teach would have the opportunity to go into their communities as leaders. With simple tools, hard work, training, and support, this first group of our new program has proven that they can and will take charge of their own diets. By doing so, they inspire their families and the children they have worked with to try new things, eat more vegetables, and learn to cook simple, healthy meals so that they can all lead healthy and productive lives.