Cooking classes teach teenagers how to do much more than grill.

Cooking Classes for Teens in Westchester County, New York

by Maria Magher

Teenagers who are looking for something different to do for their extracurricular activities besides learning how to play the piano or soccer have several options in Westchester County to learn how to cook delicious meals. From creme brulee to stew, teens can learn how to make dishes that will impress their friends and make their parents happy to turn over responsibility for dinner one night.

1. Open Kitchen Classes

Teenagers who are just looking to get their mitts warm in the kitchen to decide whether cooking is right for them can go to an open kitchen or drop-in class. It's My Party in Mamaroneck offers open kitchen hours in which teens and children of all ages can drop in to learn how to make a specific dish with the chef. Past demonstrations have included fortune cookies, sweet-potato pockets and pasta. The ChefWorks demo kitchen in New Rochelle allows adults and teens to drop in and cook a meal then eat it at one of the cozy tables. Demonstrations rotate and have included wine dinners, theme parties, tapas and jambalaya.

2. Family Courses

Parents can share the experience with their teens at classes that are designed for the whole family. At the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, offers courses for families with younger children on up to teenagers. Classes might include fettuccine tricolore, panzerotti, which is a crisp dough filled with marinara and mozzarella, and holiday cookies. At the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, teens and their parents can learn not only about how to cook but also about how to grow their own food. Class options include making your own jam, identifying portions of meat and how to cook them, and learning to cook from your own back yard.

3. Summer Camps

Teens who are looking for a good activity during the summer can try out a summer cooking camp. At Sur La Table in Westchester Mall, teens can choose a five-day program that explores the science of cooking or one that teaches them how to make desserts from around the world. The Science of Cooking includes making dishes such as pizza, bread, yogurt, gelato and ravioli. Each day explores the science of a different ingredient, such as dairy. Desserts and Treats around the World includes dishes such as panna cotta, crepes, flan and bread pudding. At Chef Central Culinary Center in Hartsdale, weeklong cooking camps are available that teach teens the skills they will need in the kitchen. Classes are organized by level, so teens can take more advanced classes as they master skills. Each camp focuses on different skills such as Italian cooking or baking.

4. Structured Courses

The Culinary Institute of America offers a Parent and Teen Day twice a year that gives teens the opportunity to learn culinary skills from the masters. Classes cover topics such as artisan breads, desserts, cake decorating, chocolates and candies, gourmet meals, Italian cuisine and other international dishes. Participants get lunch, an apron and a copy of the cookbook for the class. At Marcel's Culinary Experience in Glen Elyn, students can learn from professional chefs and chef educators about how to make gourmet meals and sharpen their culinary skills. Students learn in a professional-quality kitchen and get to eat their creations at the end of the class.

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