Metz Culinary Management, Inc. is serving up its popular after-school cooking classes for students at Edison Elementary in Erie, Pa. The class meets once a week for 90 minutes over a six-week period with 18 to 20 children learning about the importance of food and equipment safety, nutrition and how to cook simple dishes.
The program began in 2021 when administrators from Edison Elementary approached Metz about sponsoring an after-school cooking class. With 22 total schools and just under 11,000 students, Erie’s Public Schools offers an array of after-school activities that include gardening, gymnastics and book clubs, with the classes sponsored by local corporations and repeated each quarter at selected schools.
“As part of Metz’s sponsorship, we buy the children their own chef’s hat and apron that they can take home after they have completed the program,” says Jess Kremer, Metz Regional Chef for K-12. “The National Dairy Association contributes t-shirts and backpacks [and] we also have a dietitian at our school who teaches students about making smart meal choices and how to plan a healthy plate for a balanced diet.”
The cooking classes focus on dishes that can be created from ingredients already in the children’s homes and easy meals that represent all major food groups. They include breakfast smoothies and scrambled eggs, pizza grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken quesadillas with a variety of dipping sauces and hots dogs with macaroni and cheese.
The final class ends with creating a dessert such as Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats or Oreo Dirt Cups decorated with gummy worms. Students take recipes home so they can recreate them for their family members.
“The icing on the cake was seeing a former cooking-class student excitedly tell me he had made scrambled eggs and banana pancakes for his mom for her birthday,” recalls Kremer, who in addition to leading the Edison Elementary after-school cooking classes, and being a Metz K-12 Regional Chef was also recently named the company’s 2022 Culinarian of the Year.