Potomac cooking camp turns kids into chefs -- Gazette.Net


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“Quick before it sticks!” said Chris Kalleberg, the instructor for the Fourth Presbyterian School’s international cooking class.

Brooke Hainas, 10, of Rockville spun a frying pan as the batter swirled and spread around the inside until it begun to cook.

The class of seven chattering girls was learning to make banana and strawberry crepes.

“Crepes not crapes,” Kalleberg said accentuating the short ‘e.’

The Potomac school’s international cooking class — one of three options in the summer enrichment camps — is in its third year. The class, which lasts a week, highlights a different country every day. From 9 a.m. to noon the girls cooked treats from a selected country. France was the country du jour.

Other countries of the day included Italy, the girls made pizza, and England, where scones were on the menu.

“I had the biggest pizza,” said Nadine Wetzler, 10, of Gaithersburg.

“People like [the class],” said Fourth Presbyterian School’s Director of Communications Hallene Gabel. “The girls have been doing this the past few years. They really enjoy the cooking and baking.”

The day started with the class writing things they knew about France on a white board. The most popular answer was croissants.

Then a short video was shown on how to cook crepes. “Are you hungry now?” Kalleberg, who lives in Laurel, asked the class.

Next was the preparation. Strawberries and bananas needed to be cut before the crepe cooking began.

The girls bantered back and forth at a circular table. “I heard you can go to the bar when you are like 12 in France,” said one girl.

Mary Stuart Murray, 13, of Bethesda and the oldest of the group, used the metal knife while the others used plastic ones.

“I want to be a chef when I grow up and potential Food Network star,” she said, flanked by her two younger sisters Kingsley, 11, and Sara Cate, 8.

Julia Moffat, 11, of Bethesda also wants to be a chef when she gets older.

“I get away from everything when I’m in the kitchen,” she said.

In the three years Kalleberg has been teaching the international cooking class she has only had one boy. “I think he only stayed for like two days. The girls seem to be more interested in it,” she said.

Kalleberg is a third-grade teacher at Fourth Presbyterian and has been teaching for 25 years. She has taught all of the girls in the class, except Sara Cate, whom she will teach this upcoming school year.

According to Gabel, teachers at the school were asked by the Fourth Presbyterian School’s summer camp director if they’d be interested in teaching a class. Kalleberg came forward with the cooking class idea.

Kalleberg said the cooking class was inspired by her time overseas. “People in Europe don’t cook from boxes,” she said. Kalleberg wanted the kids to enjoy food that was made from scratch.

The girls donned their multicolored aprons and prepared to cook the crepes on a hot plate. The batter bubbled and sizzled.

“That one looks like a smiley face,” said Kalleberg.

“That one’s a lion,” said Wetzler.

With the crepes cooked and the fruit chopped, there was only one thing left to do. The girls ate their gastronomic creations.

“It’s like awesome,” Wetzler said.

Friday’s country was the United States. Classic American fare: homemade mac and cheese, apple pie and hot dogs.

smaucione@gazette.net