Food Culture Chefs – Program Overview

Food Culture Chefs is The Cookbook Project’s elementary school education program. This program has been tailored for a younger audience in grades 3 – 5, which corresponds to ages 8 – 11. Overall, this program focuses on giving young people a safe and supportive space for learning basic cooking skills, understanding nutrition through food culture, and figuring out how to read food labels.

The curriculum really grew out of observations that we can learn a lot about nutrition and eating through traditional foods cultures. Cooking is also a basic life skill that everyone should have – unfortunately, with the rise of processed, packaged, and fast foods, a lot of people have lost the opportunity to learn this amazing art. Food Culture Chefs focuses on reclaiming traditional food culture and cooking in a fun and inviting context.

Learning Objectives

Through the Food Culture Chefs program, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Define the concept of ‘food culture’ and develop an understanding of the role of food culture traditions.
  • Learn about and be able to identify ‘real’ vs. ‘fake’ ingredients.
  • Learn to understand the benefits different types of fruits and vegetables and be able to identify them.
  • Learn how to differentiate between different food groups, and within those food groups, understand the difference between types of protein sources (animal vs. plant), types of growing methods (organic vs. conventional), and the basics of seasonality (local vs. seasonal).
  • Learn, understand, and demonstrate important kitchen skills including safe knife skills, good hygiene practices, and overall kitchen safety.
  • Understand the issues related to food waste and how to avoid wasting food such as how to use scraps.
  • Understand why a diet needs to include more than just fat, sugar, and salt and how food choices can affect daily performance.

Session Structure

Component Time Summary
Opening Circle 5 minutes Opening activity or interactive question and answer / discussion. After day one, this will generally tie back in to the previous call to action activity.
Introduction 10 minutes Teacher will set the stage for the content with a question or example.
Content 40 minutes Main content or activity for the session.
Call to action 5 minutes Specific and measurable action items for students to ‘take home’ and consider until the next session.

Session Content

Sessions Content
1 Pop if you like… Measure where your participants are at in terms of their understanding of food and nutrition.
2 Taste Tour Learn about the major tastes.
3 Food Culture Recipes Explore the concept of food culture through favorite family recipes.
4 Sustainable Healthy Plate Understand what a balanced plate looks like and what to think about when making food choices.
5 Healthy Drinks Learn about hydration and healthy drink alternatives.
6 Fruits from Around the World Learn about the origins of different fruits and what they taste like as well as their common health benefits.
7 Fruit Salad Chefs Gain basic skills in food preparation, including introductory knife skills with ‘kid safe’ knives.
8 Roots and Shoots Learn about healthy green leafy vegetables and delicious root vegetables and how to prepare simple salads with dressing.
9 Rice, Rice, Baby Understand the difference between whole grains and processed grains and try different types. Learn how a rice cooker works!
10 Bean the Change Learn about different types of beans and why they are a wonderful and healthy source of protein.
11 Protein Power Learn about different types of protein sources and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
12 Getting Scrappy Understand how to reduce food waste in the home and at school, and how to use scraps to make different dishes, including homemade vegetable stock.
13 Final Food Culture Celebration Celebrate preparing and enjoying a meal together inspired by food culture recipes from the start of the program.
14 Closing Ceremony & Certificates Measure how far the group has come through interactive games and conduct a closing ceremony with certificates.