Young people interested in learning the basics of the culinary arts are invited to participate in a three-day cooking camp being offered by the Val Verde County Extension Office.

The cooking camp will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 23 through July 25 at the Dink Wardlaw Ag Complex, 300 E. 17th St.

“The cooking camp is just to give our 4-H food and nutrition project some exposure, especially the food challenge. We want to expose kids to what a food challenge contest is, and also what it is to be involved in the 4-H food and nutrition program,” said Raquel Rodriguez, Val Verde County Texas AgriLife extension agent for family community agent.

Rodriguez said the cooking camp is geared to beginners “so that they can get an idea of why it’s important to implement and practice the principles they will be taught, like food and kitchen safety.”

She said youngsters in the program will learn a skill, then put it into practice by preparing an actual food item.

On each of the three days of the camp, youngsters will learn and hone new kitchen and cooking skills.

“For instance, on the first day, we’ll focus on knife safety and chopping correctly, and of course whatever we make for lunch that day will deal with chopping, dicing and slicing vegetables. Then we’ll talk about the importance of washing your hands, as well as washing your fruits and your vegetables,” Rodriguez said.

Youngsters in the cooking camp will also learn about measurements.

“Then they’ll get to bake,” Rodriguez said.

They will learn about proper cooking temperatures for meat and afterward, students will cook a dish containing some type of meat, she said.

“They will also learn about making healthy substitutions by focusing on the ‘my plate’ categories,” Rodriguez said.

One of the 4-H food and nutrition program participants, Clarissa Ponce, competed at the district and state level and will talk to the cooking campers about her experience.

“This year’s theme was restaurant re-creation, and so Clarissa is going to do a demonstration of her zucchini bread, so instead of a banana nut bread, she’s going to do a healthy alternative to that,” Rodriguez said.

She said another 4-H teen leader, Paige Qualia, will speak to the group about proper cooking temperatures.

“She’s our expert in that right now,” Rodriguez said.

Skip Baker, owner of Del Rio’s Mr Gatti’s pizza restaurant, has also volunteered to lead the group in learning about knife safety.

Rodriguez said the cooking camp costs $100, and the entry fee covers all food and supplies.

For more information about the cooking camp, call Rodriguez at (830) 774 7591.

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