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Yes, Chef! Culinary Camp

Lisa C
Posted by Lisa C on Jul 5, 2022


Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a week-long virtual cooking camp for the Foundation for Culinary Arts called the Yes, Chef Culinary Camp. Foundation for Culinary Arts inspires and empowers socially and economically disadvantaged students through educational programming and career advancement opportunities in the culinary industry. This camp is designed for exceptional Chicago public high school students in under-resourced areas, who want to further their exposure to the culinary world and have fun along the way! The 20 campers I had the privilege to instruct are a diverse group of students from under-resourced communities currently enrolled in the Chicago Public School system. The students are both male and female ranging from 13-18 years of age.

Yes Chef kidsMariano’s partnered with Foundation for Culinary Arts to host the orientation and coordinate the grocery order so that the campers get all of the equipment they need to execute the recipes. There are really great prizes that I award for the campers who do nutrition homework, submit pictures throughout the week, and who have really excelled in the class. The foundation partners with Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) which is a national non-profit that transforms the lives of at-risk students through the culinary arts. C-CAP was founded by Richard Grausman, renowned cookbook author and culinary educator, and has a volunteer Board of Directors co-chaired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Mark Weiss. Since its inception in 1990, C-CAP has awarded over $46 million in scholarships through the largest independent culinary scholarship program in the U.S., and classrooms have received nearly $3.4 million worth of supplies and equipment. Many C-CAP alumni, now graduates of top culinary colleges, are working in leading restaurants and hotels throughout the country.

Let me tell you - I did not take it easy on these teens! The students would log on via Zoom at noon and get all of their mise en place ready for class to start at 1pm. Each day, we would make a complete meal for their families to enjoy after class ended at 5pm. That is four hours of cooking in the kitchen in front of a device! Each day had a specific focus of cuisines around the world, I taught them as many cooking techniques that I could and these campers did an amazing job!

yes chef screenshot

Day 1


  • Vegetable Stir Fry with Steamed Rice
  • Thai Beef Salad
  • Knife Skills Lesson
  • Flavor Dynamics
  • Sanitation and Food Safety Review
  • Mise en Place Review
  • Culinary Terminology Review 

steak and salad-1

stir fry and riceSkills covered in class:

  • Knife skills
  • Using a steel
  • Understanding taste
  • Seasoning to balance flavor
  • Using aromatic ingredients
  • Ethnic flavor palettes
  • Understanding food safety
  • Getting familiar with Asian ingredients
  • Stir frying
  • Steaming rice
  • Making marinades
  • Selecting and searing beef
  • Determining meat doneness

yes chef screenshot 2


Day 2


  • Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Feta, Tomatoes and Spinach with Lemon-Dill Reduction
  • Glazed Carrots with Mint and Coriander
  • Potato-Cauliflower Puree  
  • Orange and Almond Strawberry Shortcake
  • Whole Chicken Butchery
  • Chicken Stock 

chicken-2shortcakeSkills covered in class:

  • Butchering poultry
  • Making stock
  • Pounding, stuffing, rolling and tying chicken breasts
  • Searing and roasting poultry
  • Determining poultry doneness
  • Roux-thickened sauce
  • Preparing velouté
  • Cream reductions
  • Toasting spices
  • Preparing quick breads
  • Glazing vegetables
  • Selecting potatoes
  • Whipping cream

yes chef screenshot 3

Day 3


  • Sautéed Fish with Aioli
  • Lentils with Mirepoix and Spinach  
  • Salad Lyonnaise with Poached Eggs
  • Green Beans Almondine  
  • Profiteroles with Pastry Cream

Skills covered in class:

  • Getting familiar with classic French cooking techniques
  • Searing fish
  • Determining fish doneness
  • Preparing cold emulsions
  • Making vinaigrette
  • Balancing flavors
  • Cooking grains
  • Poaching
  • Blanching and shocking
  • Preparing pâte à choux
  • Making custards
  • Tempering


Day 4


  • Tortilla Soup
  • Roasted Pork Loin with Tomatillo Sauce
  • Cuban Black Beans
  • Roasted Patatas Bravas
  • Roasted Pineapple with Citrus-Caramel Sauce
  • Pie Dough for Day 5 

tortilla souppork with tomatillo salsapineapple with caramelSkills covered in class:

  • Getting familiar with Mexican, Cuban and Spanish cuisine and ingredients
  • Preparing brothy soup
  • Selecting and roasting pork
  • Determining pork doneness
  • Working with tomatillos
  • Selecting and roasting potatoes
  • Working with spices
  • Cutting pineapple
  • Roasting fruit
  • Preparing short dough

yes chef screenshot 4


Day 5


  • Braciole Braised in Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti
  • Sautéed Zucchini
  • Caramelized Onion Crostata
  • Focaccia
  • Chocolate Skillet Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream

onion crostatazucchini and spaghettichocolate skillet cakeSkills covered in class:

  • Getting familiar with Italian ingredients and cuisine
  • Cooking dry pasta
  • Selecting beef
  • Stuffing, rolling, tying, and braising beef
  • Making tomato sauce
  • Sautéing vegetables
  • Rolling out pie dough
  • Caramelizing
  • Making and working with yeast dough

yes chef screenshot 5These teens have such a bright future in the culinary industry, and I am super proud to have helped them on their journey. They kept up throughout the week, and they were engaged and enthusiastic. I was so impressed with their skills; it was a long week but they survived!

For graduation, all of the students got a cookbook and a gift card to use to further their skills and add to their equipment kit. All of the students were absolutely amazing, but there was one camper that really stood out, Aniyah Yancey, was awarded our grand prize which is an iPad, gift card to The Chopping Block for more classes, and we will be going on WGN Daytime Chicago on July 12th to talk all about camp! So set your DVR or reminder to tune in for more information on this camp and future camps.

This summer camp was so successful last year and this year, we are actually doing two more, a fall two-day Boot Camp September 24th and 25th and a popular Holiday Baking Boot Camp on November 20th. Campers will learn invaluable cooking and baking basics from our esteemed instructors, bond with students from other schools and end the day with delicious food!

You can find out more about the Yes, Chef Culinary Camp by clicking here. The Foundation for Culinary Arts is such a wonderful organization, and I look forward to being apart of more camps in the future. At TCB, our mission is to get the country cooking and with generous donors, these teens will have a chance to do that. If you would like to get involved whether to donate, volunteer or partner, contact Executive Director Catherine De Orio at info@f4ca.org.

yes chef logo

Foundation For Culinary Arts
1016 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
T. 312.752.2352
F. 312.243.1516

If you thought you needed a professional kitchen to execute meals like these, you don't! I taught these classes from the comfort of my own kitchen just like all of the campers. We can execute all sorts of menus virtually at The Chopping Block, our private one-on-one virtual cooking classes are my favorite because whatever meal, dish, technique you were ever curious about learning: we can make it happen! We offer all sorts of public virtual classes as well so be sure to check out our class calendar. If in-person is your preference then definitely check out our Culinary Boot Camp, which is similar to this week-long virtual camp but in person!

See our class calendar

Topics: camp, teens, teen, culinary school, culinary, yes chef

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