PYEC members work to prepare a meal as part of the “Kids Can Cook!” program. Photo by Anne Coleman

The Patagonia Youth Enrichment Youth Center’s commercial kitchen was the source of some wonderful meals, cooked up by the budding center chefs. Thanks to a grant from the Patagonia Regional Community Foundation and generous food donations from individuals, the “PYEC Kids Can Cook!” program began during the early summer weeks.

Under the direction of Anna, Caitlyn, and Annika Coleman, the youth created homemade dinners, from scratch five to six nights a week. The dinners included lasagna, meatloaf, meatballs,fettuccini alfredo, spaghetti, BBQ chicken, quinoa casserole, buffalo hot wings chicken, macncheese, pizza casserole, and pork chops. The youth also prepared mashed potatoes from scratch, fresh salads, pretzels, cookies, and desserts.

Along with the preparation of delicious food, teamwork and basic economics were learned. The receipts were broken down, meals itemized and “per plate” costs were calculated. The youth chefs realized that cooking from scratch was a lot cheaper than fast food meals AND they claim the food tastes better when they make it themselves.

The program also taught the youth to plan their menus, and measure the quantity of their food needs. The youth center chefs served a hot meal to approximately 35-45 of their peers per night during the summer months.

The youth have caught the cooking “bug” and will continue to prepare nutritious meals during the school year, three to four times a week, researching different, simple, and nutritious meals to prepare.

The PYEC is hosting a Fundraiser Dinner on Saturday, October 19th from 4-6pm. The Youth Center chefs will prepare and serve a complete dinner with dessert. The menu includes lasagna (meat and meatless), fresh green salad, bread sticks, and a homemade dessert, all for only $15/plate (children 5 and younger are free).

The community is welcome to join the youth to celebrate their new cooking skills. The goal is to raise money to help purchase the food for the Youth Center’s Kids Can Cook program, year-round. Tickets can be purchased at the Youth Center, from the PYEC youth and board members, or by contacting Anna Coleman or 520-343-2356