Serving up an appreciation for ‘real food’


Free cooking classes offered at Boys & Girls Club

By David Dore
Leominster Champion
December 3, 2015

Amid the measuring, the mixing, the baking and the eating, there was the hope that the children left the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with a new appreciation for healthy food and how to make it.

About 20 children recently finished an eight-week cooking class at the Leominster club sponsored by Watertown-based ChopChop magazine and supported by a $100,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.

The kids, aged 8-12, learned how to create a variety of meals considered both healthy and family friendly: Smoothies, scrambled eggs, pasta and sauce, green salad and vinaigrette, quesadillas, beanie burgers, pizza and honey pear crisp.

“The recipes kind of build on skill,” explained instructor Abby Reich, special projects associate at ChopChop.

The program was designed by Sally Sampson, publisher and founder of ChopChop and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. The free classes have been offered at Boys & Girls Clubs acrossMassachusetts, including in Worcester, Boston and Lawrence, since last year.

During the Nov. 5 class, the second-to-last session, the children made vegetable pizza with a biscuit-type dough that needed no rising or resting. As they waited for their pizzas to bake, the kids played games such as “Heads Up,” a guessing game where the answer was a type of vegetable (in this case, broccoli).

“Our goal at ChopChop is to get kids and their families inside the kitchen cooking real food,” Reich said. “There’s a lot of really wonderful benefits that comes from that. It teaches the kids independence, but on top of that it teaches that they can try new foods and enjoy them, and they have these basic skills they can use in the kitchen. It not only brings families together, but it also encourages healthy eating and it encourages all of the wonderful things that you want for your family.