CULINARY KIDS: 4-H class teaches kids cooking skills


Evelyn Biehl, 10, cuts peppers during a recent cooking class. Two dozen kids attended a cooking class last week hosted by the 4-H educators at the Purdue Extension office. Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Two dozen kids opted to spend part of spring break taking a cooking class through the 4-H program at the Purdue Extension office in Greenfield.

Divided into two classes that each met twice this week, the young chefs in third through sixth grade learned how to make everything from homemade fettuccine Alfredo to crème brûlée.

Amber Barks, Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development, said the class is a great way to teach skills kids can use later in 4-H.

In the first session this week, participants learned to make homemade fettuccine Alfredo completely from scratch — right down to rolling out the dough and cutting the noodles with a hand-cranked machine.

They even made Alfredo sauce by grating their own cheese and pouring in fresh cream, and topped the meal off by making Italian sodas and crème brûlée.

“We used a torch to caramelize the sugar on top,” said 10-year-old Lilly Huang, who has been fascinated with cooking since she was big enough to help her mom in the kitchen.

Lilly loves watching cooking shows like Master Chef Junior, and is pretty sure she wants to become a chef someday.

Ten-year-old Felicity Turner was so impressed by learning to make homemade fettuccine on Monday she went home and surprised her family by making homemade pasta that night.

“I really like (the class), and like being able to show my family what I learn,” said Felicity, a fifth grader at Maxwell Intermediate School.

This is her second year taking the cooking class, which taught her to make chocolate cake in the microwave last year.

“I make that a lot,” she said.

Her mom was impressed with the skills she’s picked up in the class.

“She’s the only one of my four daughters who likes to cook,” said Melissa Turner, who participated 10 years in 4-H as a youth, and hopes her daughters do the same.

Turner said this week’s cooking program was a great way to introduce kids to lifelong cooking skills.

Olivia Dickson, a 4-H assistant who helped run this week’s classes, said it’s also a great introduction to being mindful of where food comes from.

“The kids learn to grate their own cheese and we talk about what our cheese comes from, and we learn to separate eggs and talk about where our eggs come from, discussing the difference between farm-fresh and store-bought eggs,” said Dickson.

“I think it’s important for them to know they have alternatives to buying all their food from the store, that they can look at local alternatives like farmer’s markets,” she said.

Dickson said the cooking class fits right in with 4-H’s mission to teach youth about healthy living and life skills.

“Part of 4-H is building those life skills, and this is one of the opportunities to learn those skills and enhance that learning,” she said, as she helped a young boy roll out the dough for an apple hand pie.

Barks said this year’s class participants were a mixture of boys and girls from Greenfield, New Palestine and Eastern Hancock schools.

She was surprised at how quickly the class filled up this year.

“When we opened it up this year we filled one class within two hours, and the second class filled up quickly too. We were planning on having 20 kids but ended up with 24, so we’re really excited about that,” Barks said.

T.J. Manship, a 10-year-old student at Eastern Hancock Elementary School, said he opted to take the cooking class during spring break over a class offered at the Indianapolis Zoo.

On Wednesday he seemed happy with his decision as he learned to make a Philly cheesesteak sandwich and apple hand pie, chopping his own onions and peppers and rolling out the pie dough by hand.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

For updates on 4-H classes offered at the local extension office, visit the “Hancock County 4-H (Indiana)” page on Facebook or call Barks at 317-462-1113.