A new cutting-edge cooking academy has launched at OC Fair & Event Center to empower underserved youth through free culinary education and mentorship. A commercial kitchen on the fairgrounds was transformed into Hatch Culinary Lab. The new education program is a partnership between OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC), CulinaryLab Cooking School, Anaheim’s Innovative Mentorship Experience program (AIME) and Spectra, the Fair’s master concessionaire.
OCFEC invested an initial $54,000 in equivalent value in this community program that this year will provide up to 50 students with training in everything from knife skills, cookery basics and making healthy meals to safety and sanitation. The spring session started Feb. 28 with the first 20 students from Kennedy, Savanna and Western high schools working for eight weeks. A summer internship program and fall certification series will follow, culminating in an event to feed the local homeless community.
The team from CulinaryLab in Tustin is donating staff and time to the program and has created new curriculum tailored to provide students with the basics on how food works, healthy cooking skills and simple recipes they can practice at home with minimal cost and prep time. The goal is to excite students about cooking and food service and empower them to be confident individuals ready to secure employment.
“At CulinaryLab, we do everything we can to immerse students in the world of cooking with experimentation, tons of repetitive hands-on practice, and by involving local chef partners in the teaching process,” said Chef Ryan Wagner. “The goal of the Hatch program is to bring that same high-level culinary education to high school students who might otherwise not have access to it.”
Chef Ryan Wagner the founder of Tustin’s CulinaryLab now continues the story of Hatch Culinary Lab at OC Fair & Event Center with us.
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