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Partnership between Bitter Lake Community Center and The Polytech brings summer cooking classes to teens

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Bitter Lake Community Center hosts activities for every age group, and is especially focused on helping teens develop life skills and athletic skills to enjoy throughout a lifetime. This year, BLCC is also offering cooking lessons, thanks to a partnership with The Polytech, a private high school that continues working with students through age 26 to assist with the transition to college, career, and adulthood. The program is set up so that there is no cost to students or families, and all ingredients, equipment and the technology to stream classes is available at the community center.

The Polytech has offered culinary arts classes throughout the pandemic with students, and often their parents, cooking in their own kitchens. At the same time, they watch a livestream of Chef Mina cooking the same recipes in a professional kitchen. She provides instruction and models the techniques she describes. At the same time, she can give direct feedback to students, helping prevent the rice from scorching or advising when vegetable slices need to be thinner. By partnering with The Bitter Lake Community Center, students are able to utilize the large kitchen space there and cook together, making the chopping and preparation pieces go more quickly and adding a more enjoyable social aspect to classes.

“Our culinary arts classes provide excellent practice in executive function skills because of all the organizing of equipment and ingredients before beginning the process. Students are learning more than how to cook, and at the end of class they have the wonderful smells and delicious dishes that they have created,” say Reza Khastou, administrator of The Polytech and the driving force behind the summer culinary arts collaboration.

An additional benefit is that the first class includes instruction in food safety and students take the state’s online test to get their Food Worker Card, valid for 2 years and enabling them to work in restaurants, day care facilities, retirement community homes, and many other organizations where food and beverages are present.

This unique opportunity is possible through funding from Bright Future Dollars for Scholars, a non-profit providing scholarships to students who pursue vocational interests while in high school, Bitter Lake Community Center, and The Polytech, a private high school with transition services for students ages 16-26 located in Northgate. For more information, contact Reza Khastou at reza.khastou@thepolytech.com.

Photo by Silver Hofsass.

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