Top Chef contestants better watch out because there’s new talent in town: Aim High students and parents!

This spring members of the Aim High community took their kitchen skills to the next level. The Civic Kitchen, a new cooking school for home cooks, invited Aim High to partake in a Saturday cooking class. At no charge to families, five students and their parents spent a few hours honing their kitchen skills before savoring the fruits of their culinary labor.

Aim High students fastidiously measure out ingredients.

Generous Aim High donors Chris Bonomo and Jen Nurse launched The Civic Kitchen in June 2017 in San Francisco’s Mission District. A culinary school graduate and award-winning baker, Jen stumbled upon the chance opportunity to teach a cooking class, which she quickly realized was her calling. Jen was eager to find a way to merge her newfound passion with her skills. After three years of planning, The Civic Kitchen came to life.

The Cooking Class co-founder Jen, left, leads the cooking class.
Participants use proper knife techniques to prepare their three-course meal.

Jen led the class the day that Aim High families rolled up their sleeves at The Civic Kitchen. She demonstrated proper knife handling and provided general kitchen safety tips. Many parents realized they’d been holding a knife incorrectly their entire lives. With cutlery skills in tow, students and their families prepared a three-course meal of cabbage salad, chicken breasts, and tortino di yogurt, which they all enjoyed together.

The class was a hit among students and parents alike. “It’s hard to find things to do as a family that everyone can enjoy,” said one parent. Another chimed in adding that a cooking class “is a good way to get our kids away from technology.”

It’s no question that with the advent of frozen meals, fast food, and Uber Eats, our time in the kitchen is diminishing. Chris and Jen recognize that cooking, which was once a life skill passed down from generation to generation, has lost steam in the hustle and bustle of modern life. “We intend to change that,” they say, “by teaching young people how to cook.”

A recipe for Tortino di yogurt.
Aim High students from our Mission District campus enjoy catching up during the school year while collaborating in the kitchen.

Chris and Jen are are committed to keeping The Civic Kitchen community- and youth- focused. Through partnerships with local educational institutions, like Aim High and Mission High School, Chris and Jen can ensure that students and families gain confidence in the kitchen through hands-on learning.

“It’s very rewarding to see kids’ enthusiasm and open-mindedness,” says Chris. “They can’t wait to get cooking, and even with their first reaction to a dish is ‘yuck,’ they keep working with the recipe.”

A special thanks to Chris Bonomo and Jen Nurse for their generosity, hospitality, and commitment to the Mission community!

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