Create-a-Cook camps train kids to become future chefs – or just good cooks

July is National Culinary Arts Month, and while the observance celebrates the multitude of specialty pros, there’s apparently plenty of room for more. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job ranks of chefs and chefs alone will grow “much faster than the average for all occupations” — about 25% from 2020 to 2030.

Potential contributors to these numbers? Young students currently attending the Create-a-Cook camp at Central Montco Technical High School in Plymouth Meeting. The series designed for ages 8 to 15 is led by professional chefs Jarrett Young and Maria Crann. Classes this summer (including an advanced camp for teens) started until mid-August.

Monday through Thursday sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and focus on a specific culinary theme. Coming soon: International Cuisines (July 18-21), Comfort Food Classics (July 25-28), Breakfast for Dinner (August 1-4) and Farm to Table (August 8-11). Tuition for each week is $350.

Create-a-Cook also oversees a half-day program for second, third and fourth graders at Souderton Area High School as part of the Souderton Area School District Summer Workshops. Souderton. Tuition is $165.

Young and Crann emphasize menu planning and recipe tracking, but dexterity with knives and plating aren’t the only skills students develop in their Create-a-Cook classes.

Chef Maria Crann with the younger campers. (photo sent)

“Cooking, learning to get by in the kitchen – these are valuable life skills, but they also allow children to express themselves creatively,” says Crann. “A recipe is a guide, so they may look at it and think ‘maybe this spice will work’ or ‘maybe I can add this or that as a flavoring. Thus, as they gain confidence, they are able to develop a recipe…to experiment with it. And it’s great to see. Another thing, they may start out not knowing anyone, but by the end of the week they have worked together and made new friends.

As a full-time member of the CMTHS Culinary Arts faculty, Young has helped launch the careers of many culinary hopefuls in the area. He graduated from the school in 1999 and later joined the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Young’s post-CIA restaurant positions range from entrepot to executive chef and the opportunity to train with the master chef. French Dominique Filoni at Savona Cucina Della Costa at Gulph Mills. His resume also includes teaching positions during college semesters at Delaware County Community College and Chester County Technical College High School.

Camp Create-a-Cook is also hosting a holiday toy drive.  (photo sent)
Camp Create-a-Cook is also hosting a holiday toy drive. (photo sent)

Unsurprisingly, the vibe at Create-a-Cook Camps is “more laid back, more relaxed.”

“During the summer, we teach them as many cooking basics as possible, but we do it without losing the fun aspect of it,” says Young. “On the first day, we do knife cuts, knife skills… for example, how to julienne and stick. Then, on the second day, we show them how to set up their stations. On the third and fourth days, once they know how to do it, we really start following different recipes. Maria and I try to put everything into practice, so they leave here feeling comfortable in their own kitchen at home.

Although…a Create-a-Cook casual camper goes far beyond “your own kitchen at home”.

“In fact, in our very first year here with the Create-a-Cook camp, we had a student who decided to take the (culinary) program at (CMTHS), graduated from here and went at the CIA,” Young recalled.

Create-a-Cook Camp’s newest alumni may not be ready for the CIA, but they’re giving their experience a collective boost this summer.

Marlee Howard: “I liked the independence we had while cooking.”

Gabby Salerno: “It was very interesting to be able to work with professional equipment. »

Hannah Kim: “I liked that we each had our own kitchen space to do our work.”

Lily Honeyman: “I thought it was fun that we were each working…with professionals.”

Carmela Bender: “My favorite thing…was the things we did every day.”

CMTHS is located at 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting. Additional information about Create-a-Cook Camp, including registration details, is available at 610-500-3902 and

Create-a-Cook also hosts its first annual holiday toy drive at CMTHS. Young and Crann invited the public to bring toys and unwrapped gifts to the donation box in the school lobby between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. until July 28.