Last week, the students made cookies at Teens in the Kitchen. Photo by Autumn Garrett

By Autumn Garrett

Let’s get cooking with the Teens in the Kitchen class, every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at 8319 Independence Ave., where Chef Christine Temple Williams teaches teenagers how to make healthy meals by themselves.

Williams spends eight weeks in a semester course guiding the teens through several recipes and basic cooking skills, while the students have fun learning and completing each new meal.

“In this [semester] they’ve learned how to make mozzarella cheese and butter,” Williams said. “They did build upon knife skills first, learned all the different styles of cutting, and then they did pesto one week with the fresh herbs, and then we did pizza where they took the mozzarella and the pesto they had made in previous weeks and put that on their pizza.”

Photo by Autumn Garrett

On December 1, the teens enjoyed making desserts, including holiday cookies and cupcakes, while also creating hot chocolate bombs, a tasty treat to keep them warm during the chilly season.

The program and course – on top of offering cooking lessons – also uses fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown in a garden right outside its doors. This past June, the program expanded to a new kitchen and dining room.

Teens in the Kitchen is funded by several events that Williams hosts, such as the most recent fundraiser Farm to Table Dinner.

“The Farm to Table event was our first fundraiser and it was very successful, we’re going to have probably four of those a year,” Williams said,” Hopefully we get funded and that will help pay for the recipe contest that we’ll do. I’m getting ready to write a grant that will be turned in at the end of January. So right now, because of the part of town we’re in, we don’t ask for much money and I take care of all supplies. Right now we’re just working on it by faith.”

Photo by Autumn Garrett

Williams wants the program to provide a safe learning environment for the teens that come, for them to learn how to cook to give them more opportunities to eat healthy and know what to do inside their own kitchens.

“Biggest impact is probably that you can control your health because between not eating fast food all the time and how easy it is to cook from the garden, you’re impacting your health in so many ways that they don’t see today,” Williams said. “So that’s probably the biggest thing is that I want them to see that it is easy to do, and it’s long-term health that is going to be impacted by their decisions now. Our goal is to change this area, between crime, drugs and the low income, this is an important thing to help change from the inside out. Because if you start teaching them better health and better eating now, it’s going to do so much for them in the future.”

For more information about the Teens in the Kitchen program contact Christine Temple Williams through Facebook.