St. Mary Of The Angels School Invites Lexington Volunteers To Teach Cooking
Elizabeth Fregoso (Class of 2014, from Chicago) hardly knew what she was getting into when she volunteered to teach cooking at St. Mary of the Angels after school program. First of all, she had to make lesson plans for four weeks of 5th – 8th graders then four weeks of Kindergarten – 4th graders. “It’s hard to know what is appropriate for an 8 year old. Obviously, knives are out.” Elizabeth says, “and how to make it all fit into an hour, clean up and get back to Lexington in time for a 5:30 Interior Design class—that’s hard!”
On top of that, there is the purchasing. Elizabeth’s last Facebook post showed a harried college student loaded down with bags. “This is so embarrassing,” she posted, “I’m on the train during rush hour taking up the seat next to me with luggage, back pack, knife kit, messenger bag and two grocery bags… all filled with food! I am in desperate need of a car!” Luckily her friend and classmate at Lexington, Petra Matos (Class of 2014, from Chicago) has been available to help some Wednesday afternoons.
Teaching a hands-on class to children is always a challenge, but the first hurdle to cross is knowledge. Elizabeth knows culinary arts. Her inspiration is her mother’s comfort food—Maria Fregoso’s own unique blend of Mexican and Italian cuisine. “It’s the kind of food that is tasty and satisfying,” Elizabeth says, “and, of course, it lets you know you are loved.” Elizabeth’s classical training comes from culinary classes at Lexington. “My favorites have been Quantity Foods with Chef Nate, and Baking and Pastry with Chef Cheryl. I also loved making Peruvian food for our Tasting Fair in Sociocultural Aspects of Food, Health and Nutrition,” Elizabeth says. Elizabeth’s professional experience comes from her work in restaurants, such as Arami, a sushi restaurant in Ukranian Village, and in the big banquet kitchen at Shedd Aquarium.
Passing on her love for cooking by volunteering at St. Mary of the Angels school is something she wanted to do. “Well, really I hardly have time, but when I heard they needed someone, I knew I could do it and I felt I should at least try.” The hardest part, Elizabeth says, is incorporating etiquette and manners into the class. “There just isn’t enough time. The boys aren’t interested at all. And the girls are so well-mannered already. I still have to figure that part out.”
On the other hand, it is gratifying to see the impact of the class on picky eaters. “One boy told me he did not like croutons and would not eat the salad we were making if it had croutons on it,” Elizabeth said. She taught the class how to make their own seasoned, fresh croutons. Once the smell of the toasted bread was in the air, she encouraged the boy to try just one. He liked it so much he covered his salad with croutons and announced that he would make them at home for his family. “The fact that they are really learning something from me—something they can bring home to their families. Wow, that means a lot,” Elizabeth concluded.