Eat Healthy and Speak Italian: Kids Cooking Class

Eat Healthy and Speak Italian: Kids Cooking Class

Students making homemade pesto sauce

This week I attended the “Eat Healthy and Speak Italian” cooking class at the International Culinary Center in New York City. About 70 kids ages 10-16 years attended from two different schools. The workshop is aimed to help kids learn about cooking healthy and delicious Italian food. It was a wonderful experience to be in the room filled with such enthusiasm for food. The kids we so excited so taste, watch, speak, and participate in the session. I even picked up a few Italian cooking terms along the way!

The Purpose

Students observing the cooking demo

There are over 42,000 Italian language students within New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Through The Italian American Committee on Education (IACE),students are able to better understand the Italian culture by attending events like the “Eat Healthy and Speak Italian” cooking class run by the International Culinary Center and sponsored by Barilla. The purpose of the class is to introduce students to pasta making techniques and understand that healthy cooking can also be delicious (something I preach daily!). The students also are exposed to key Italian phrases and cooking terms throughout the 2 hour class.

The Class
The class was run by chef Guido Magnaguagno and Chef Jessica Botto–  both are faculty members at the School of Italian Studies run by The International Culinary Center. The enthusiasm they brought to the demo was amazing—you could feel the love of cooking from all the students in the room. The kids learned how to make pasta fresca (fresh pasta) and pasta secca (dry pasta) and they were all thrilled to be able to taste everything.

Students learning to make fresh gnocchi

The three dishes demonstrated were Barilla® Whole Grain Spaghetti with Fresh Vegetables, Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto and Homemade Ravioli with Tomato Sauce. Student volunteers were called up to make fresh pesto by hand by using a pestle and mortar, to crush tomatoes by hand for the sauce and to form gnocchi with fresh dough. Fresh dough was also passed around so everyone could practice making gnocchi.

The Italian
Throughout the class, Italian words were provided for the ingredients, tools and to describe the pasta. Here are some of the terms reviewed—students were asked to later use these terms to describe the dishes they tasted.

Le paste è(the pasta is):

Fresh gnocchi and pesto

  • Al dente = perfectly cooked
  • Cruda = raw
  • Dura = Hard
  • Scotta = Overcooked
  • Salata = Salty
  • Insipida = Missing salt
  • Buona = Good

Equipment par fare la pasta(equipment to make pasta):

  • Macchina sfogliatrice = pasta machine
  • Stampo = mold
  • Rotella = wheel (referring to the roller or cutter for pasta dough)
  • Pennello = brush (to brush water or oil on fresh pasta to seal the dough)

The Message

Chef Jessica Botto along with workshop attendees

It’s important to expose kids from a young age to various foods and show them how to cook. Many of the students had never tried yellow peppers and zucchini used in the pasta and veggie dish nor had many seen pasta made from scratch.

You can do a similar type of demo in your own home with friends and family. Gather a few friends, select age-appropriate recipes for the kids, choose a time to meet and have fun! Learning about wholesome, fresh food is one step towards helping fight the childhood obesity epidemic and teaching kids how to live a healthy lifestyle.

LET’S DISCUSS: Would you like to see more cooking classes available for kids?

This post was sponsored by Barilla.


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