‘Misfits’ are anything but in this New Kensington kitchen
A free class for teens is what’s cookin’ at The United Presbyterian Church of New Kensington.
A new program dubbed “Misfits Cooking Class for Teens” launched in June, offering hands-on culinary experiences for teens age 13-17 in the church kitchen.
“I believe one can make something good to eat out of random items in your fridge or cupboards. Cooking should be fun and I love to encourage the kids to try new things and ingredients,” says Stacey Oden, director of food ministry and education at the church.
The hands-on cooking classes are hosted weekly during the summer months and monthly during the school year, emphasizing creativity, cooking collaboration and, of course, eating.
The spacious kitchen features an oversized island perfect for food prep and camaraderie, accommodating more than 20 cooks.
“Just show up and be ready to cook, eat and wash dishes, too,” Oden says.
The participants provide input on what they’d like to cook and boxed food deliveries from Misfits Markets, a Philadelphia based discount subscriber produce box delivery company with “misfit” looking fruits and veggies (but perfectly edible), provide some of the fruits and veggies that are utilized during class.
Chef volunteer Antwon Knuckles of New Kensington owns Claudette’s Catering and responded to a Facebook post by Oden, seeking volunteers for her new program.
“We share a meal and fellowship together after we are done cooking,” Knuckles says. “I felt compelled to answer the social media post because I love cooking and wanted to give back to the community. It’s a great way to get the youth active and involved.”
During one class, Knuckles instructed the teens on how to make breakfast egg rolls, homemade gravy, bacon and sausage.
“The kids love this class and always can’t wait for the next one,” Knuckles says.
Previously prepared meals include spaghetti and meatballs, soft pretzels, salmon salad, stuffed shells and an Asian stir-fry.
“I’ve learned a lot from the classes and I enjoyed making the stuffed shells and salmon cakes,” says Faith Knuckles, 13, Antwon’s daughter and class participant.
The Rev. Wendy Keys says she welcomes the new program and encourages more teens to join the church cooking crew.
“This summer the kids were lined up waiting to get inside and get down to cooking,” Keys says. “Our ministry goes into the streets, the neighborhood, and brings them in to cook.”
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.