Kids sharpen culinary skills at baking boot camp

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They're making a sticky, stretchy, mushy mess.

"It feels weird," said one girl.

"Like really, really gooey and thick," describes one boy.

"It feels cool," said another girl.

But this week, getting your hands dirty is perfectly acceptable.

"This is the way you do it," the chef told a young man whose fingers were covered in dough.

Baking Boot Camp is a week-long summer program at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport.

"We're going to add the wheat flour," the chef told the class.

It's the first culinary camp for kids held in the new state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. The fancy kitchen, complete with Viking appliances, is housed in the Wings Performing Arts Center.

"It's just a good wholesome thing to learn and it keeps kids busy and it's just a fun activity you can do with your friends or family," said Summer Camp Director Claudia Appel.

The children learn from a real chef how to make everything from scratch, from homemade fortune cookies to soft pretzels. Thursday's recipe called for baking bread, from mixing the yeast to kneading the dough.

"I like getting my hands dirty and stuff.  It's really fun," said 13-year-old Caitlin Carter.

Of course, the most appetizing part is the taste test.  Some admit their baked goods don't always measure up to their parents' dishes.

"The cookies, they were flattened.  The biscuits are almost hockey pucks. We're not very good cooks," Caitlin said.

The goal is to give kids the basic ingredients so they will enjoy cooking in the kitchen.

"I want to be a five-star chef at a restaurant, and work part time," said 10-year-old Caleb Morgan.

"I want to cook for my children and my husband," said eight-year-old Makenzie Davis.

"Just cook for my family and stuff, because my grandma was the one that inspired me to cook and everything and I really enjoy it," said Caitlin.

The children will graduate on Friday. They will serve samples of their baked goods to family and friends.

Lynn Meadows is offering more culinary camps this summer, including classes on making pasta, cake decorating, and party appetizers.

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