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Lessons from the Kitchen: Indianapolis chef teaches skills to young cooks

An Indianapolis chef is teaching skills to central Indiana students that go beyond the kitchen.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Television shows about food are growing in popularity, often featuring kids as chefs and judges. Who knows, you may just see a Hoosier someday.

But before they get there, they have to learn the basics and helping them is a former Warren Central High School culinary arts teacher. Carol Rice is a certified chef who followed her passion to give back and give kids a winning edge with hands-on lessons from the kitchen.

It's chicken pot pie night and in the kitchen cooking are kids.

"I just like cooking because it's my passion," said 10-year-old Kaleanna Stewart.

Rice's healthy meal prep company, Stargazer, just added "Youth Dreams Culinary Classes."

"You always want that job that makes you feel like you're giving back or that you can really see the fruits of your labor," Rice said.

Kids come from all over central Indiana.

"I have kids from Avon with the IPS schools. I have kids from Greenwood or Greenfield with Warren Township students," says Rice.

They spend two hours not just cooking, but they also sharpen their culinary vocabulary, learn about new food, maintain a journal and more!

"She taught us how this thing called 'bear claw,' where you put your knuckles near the knife so you don't cut your fingertips off, so if you do get too far it's just your knuckle and not your whole finger," says 15-year-old culinary student Aqueelah Gilbert.

"When I see them at week one and I see them at week six, I am like really excited because I get to see the progress," Rice said.

Cooking is a fun way to reinforce S.T.E.A.M. - science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. And no matter the level, they all enjoy it.

"You get to bake a lot of fun things like rice and chicken. And you get to make zucchini and carrot bread and that's one my favorite things to make," twelve-year-old Julionna Apple said.

"You can make food and taste it to eat for dinner," said eight year-old Dylan Davis.

Their parents watch every minute, knowing they now have a kitchen helper at home.

"We can call home and she can get something started and she can finish as well if need. So she knows what she's doing. She's awesome," said Aqueelah's father, Andre Gilbert.

"They come home, they cook, they prepare the salad before I get home. It's amazing because I don't have to do all the work anymore," said Julionna's mother, Trina Apple.

It's all about the access, experience, and building confidence at an early age.

"If you don't want to become a chef, no problem. It's also life skills. So it's still money well spent, time well spent, and then they develop relationships with kids from all over," Rice said.

And the best part of it all is tasting your good efforts!

"These kids come into our class for two hours, basically cook their meal in about an hour, so that's something you can do at home," said Rice. "We're bringing families back to the table."

New classes are scheduled for after spring break and this summer at the Community Life Center at New Direction Church. Chef Carol Rice also has a mobile service where she creates programs on site at schools and camps.

For more information, click here.