Kid’s Culinary Camp
By Angela Moore
Chef Bette Fraser moved to Oregon a bit by accident seven years ago, but the creation of her company, The Well Traveled Fork, was something she planned quite on purpose. Chef Bette’s culinary creation, The Well Traveled Fork, is a company that caters to the tastes of Central Oregon. Having been in the middle of a character crisis before moving to Bend, the health-minded chef was on vacation from her Southern California home, having gotten away from her students that didn’t understand the value of a dollar, nor the benefits of healthy eating. She had a notion that she could make a real difference in the culinary community of this high desert, especially one that would stay with children and adults alike.
The Culinary Camps for Kids was soon born.
Chef Bette’s week-long camp, aimed at children seven and up, is meant to teach the younger generations not only how to cook, but where their meals come from. Kids learn that a chicken lays the eggs and that bacon is attached to an animal called the pig. Speaking passionately about her program, Chef Bette explains how sad it was to see kids in Southern California, privileged kids, that were living primarily on simple carbs and overly processed foods. “They had no idea that chicken didn’t come in nuggets…and a vegetable was almost something that was foreign,” says Chef Bette. “Starting the kids on a healthier life over there was a struggle”, she adds, “mostly because of the parent’s unwillingness to learn as well.” After falling in love with Bend, she tried again here and has become one of Bend’s most popular healthy chef personalities.
During this summer camp, which can hold up to ten kids a week, little chefs learn valuable lessons, not just in cooking, but also in life. The cooking part first – camp starts at 10 a.m. and runs until about 1 p.m. (except Wednesdays when they visit a farm), leaving the child plenty of time to enjoy the summer sun and also allowing them to sleep in a little. This camp, though, seems to understand what makes kids work – literally work. They have to shop, chop, grate, sauté, plate and serve their final project to the very people who do this for them multiple times a day: their parents. No matter what age, impressing parents has always been a priority of children everywhere. Chef Bette insists that if proof of this is needed, her Facebook page is swarming with photos of happy campers and proud parents.
The beginning of the week focuses mostly on food preparation and education. Then mid-week Chef Bette makes it a point to visit a couple of farms with the campers. They get to meet with the farmers and workers and see where their food comes from, how it’s grown and what it looks like before it is served on a plate. “There is a whole process that these kids just aren’t even aware of…this program teaches them about respecting their food, where it comes from and what kinds of it they put into their bodies, “she states passionately. She continues, “We are not that far gone from this farming lifestyle. We are only a few generations removed from it, yet we’ve forgotten about it so quickly.”
These days, kids are either at practices, after school functions or just hidden away in another room in front of whatever electronic device is entertaining them. Dinner, for most, just gets put on the table. Usually, the time the parent spent putting it all together goes unnoticed and underappreciated. During camp, the respect for the work that it takes to create a meal is taught to the kids. They learn that food in any form doesn’t just appear, it is the product of hard work and is something that they themselves can participate in and feel proud of. Simple cooking camp can teach some pretty amazing lessons beyond just cooking. Chef Bette talks about their confidence growing, when she sees a child flip their first crepe or pull something they created from scratch out of the oven. “Seeing the light go on in their heads, when they really get that they can do this, that’s got to be one of the best parts about what I do.” smiles Chef Bette, “This whole thing is about respect.” She makes it a point to add that the respect travels with them for life, they will never forget the lessons they’ve learned at Kid’s Culinary Camp.
For more information about the Kid’s Culinary Camp:
www.welltraveledfork.com or 541-312-0097