Bon Appétit teaches young chefs at Cornell

“Bon appétit, now you may eat!” says Jan Moore ’92 to her 15 young pupils. It’s a phrase that the Washington Elementary School “begindergarten” (pre-kindergarten) students hear every day before snack time and they happily begin munching on the fruit kebabs they just made themselves.

A student assembles her kebab
A student assembles her kebab.

Mrs. Moore’s students don small aprons and hold white child-safe plastic serrated knives. They were invited to Cornell College’s campus on Dec. 11 to take part in the Healthy Kids program hosted by Bon Appétit, the company that provides dining services to the Hilltop. The Healthy Kids program aims to educate young children about the food they eat and how to safely prepare nutritious dishes.

After sampling new foods, like jicama (it was met with a mixed response), the children were ready to learn how to cook for themselves. Led by Executive Chef David Smigo, the young chefs were instructed on all the aspects of creating their two main dishes for the day: fruit kebabs and veggie tacos. 

“Remember to cut low and slow,” Chef David says, as they prepare grapes, strawberries, apples, pears, and clementines for their kebabs, followed by tomatoes, red cabbage, and cilantro for their veggie tacos.

This is the first time that Bon Appétit has hosted the Healthy Kids program on Cornell’s campus, and it was a huge success.

Mrs. Moore approaches Bon Appétit General Manager James Richards and excitedly tells him that she has been teaching for 20 years and this is the best field trip she has ever been on with her students. 

“They’re learning all these life skills,” she says. “But they are so engaged that they don’t even realize they’re learning right now.”

The students finished the day by assembling their tacos. Some adventurous students used all of the ingredients: roasted cauliflower, black beans, cheese, onions, corn, red cabbage, and pico de gallo. Others chose simply to stick with the basics: a tortilla and shredded cheese. Either way, they proudly left the Hilltop with a new set of skills and their very own aprons.

Kamillah, 5, poses with her creation
Kamillah, 5, poses with her creation