Cooking up credits


Now that Quarter 4 is underway, seniors have just weeks to enjoy last classes at Concord High School.
And enjoy they are, particularly in classes students find challenging and practical but also a lot of fun.
“I really enjoy the art of cooking and baking,” says senior Megan Reilly, shown at left sampling frosting from a cupcake made during Myrna Vashaw’s period 7 Creative Cooking class.
“And why not express my love at school? Being able to take this class is amazing,” she said.
Not everyone gets to take Creative Cooking, which is focused on independent activities and more complex recipes rather than basics and simple dishes. To be eligible for Creative Cooking, students must complete the prerequisite, Intro to Cooking.
Creative Cooking emphasizes creativity, Reilly explained.
“The activity we did today is kind of like a cooking TV show. You have to take three things and make something great out of it,” she said, looking at a can of tomato sauce.
Vashaw’s classroom is set up with five different kitchens. All are equipped with stoves, microwaves, fridges, pots, pans, plates, cups, silverware and sinks: everything students need in order to prepare and then enjoy the food they’ve made.
The course is also popular because it is one that is considered a “math experience” course, and in some cases students can earn some math credit for taking it.

At left, Austin Kirk (standing) helps Sheldon Lowery open a can of tomatoes.
The pair are working with other group members to make a dish inspired by the television show Chopped.
“I know how to use a can opener,” jokes Lowery, who said he had several reasons for signing up for Creative Cooking: “It’s easy and fun — and I wanted food. Food’s nice.”
Students may perceive that a class they enjoy so immensely is easy but there’s real learning going on. Vashaw not only teaches real life skills such as measuring, kitchen safety and proper cleanup techniques but she introduces students to new foods from all around the world.
Cooking projects require students to develop a number of skills. Not only do they make things such as stir fry, fried chicken, burgers, and homemade pasta, they also cook desserts like cupcakes, cakes, and cookies.
One day students might be making Asian-inspired spring rolls; the next day they are cooking up chocolate chip cookies.
Senior Amaya Harper said she finds the class very worthwhile. “The most interesting thing about this class is that we have freedom to make whatever we want. Like, she gives us ingredients and from that we can make anything.”
Freedom is a big component in Creative Cooking. Because of the required prerequisite, students in this advanced class are given far more trust and responsibility though there are still rules and expectations.
Freddie Seekamp (at left) cuts pieces of chicken for the recipe his team is making.
Although most of the recipes made in class include some sort of meat, the course is also vegan and vegetarian friendly.
In other words, those considering joining the class who have dietary restrictions shouldn’t think twice. All of the foods made can be altered or substituted for those with different needs.