HealthWatch: Marin Summer Camp Teaching Slow-Food Culture

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Operation C.H.E.F.

Campers at Operation C.H.E.F. check out a local farm. (Operation C.H.E.F.)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

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TIBURON (CBS 5) – An innovative summer camp in Marin County hopes to give children growing up in a fast-food culture a taste for something different: making healthy meals using fresh, local ingredients.

The camp is called Operation C.H.E.F., which stands for “Cooking for Health, Energy and Fun.”  The goal: to ignite a slow-food revolution in the kitchen.

Operation C.H.E.F. offers a series of week-long camps.  But it’s not just about cooking, according to founder Camilla Bourbon.

“The whole time we’re teaching them about whole foods, local foods, organic foods, trying to eat as much vegetables as they possibly can,” said Bourbon.  “It’s also about having a lot of fun in the kitchen.”

The kids learn professional culinary techniques from professional chefs, and they learn how to cook from scratch:

“This is their lunch,” explained Chef Rachelle Boucher, pointing to a steaming plate of dumplings. “So we have them make their own lunch. Very Tom Sawyer. It’s really fun to make your own,” she laughed.

The kids often get what staffers call a food epiphany. They come in hating tofu, olives and mushrooms, but once they cook them, they love them.

“Cooking with kids is such an amazing way to expose them to more foods and get them to try different things,” said Bourbon

One different recipe is for cookies without any added granulated sugar. To add sweetness, the young chefs-in-training add mashed bananas and some chocolate chips.

During the week, the kids also go on field trips to local farms and to local gardens where they help harvest vegetables.

The kids also learn how to be safe in the kitchen as well as clean. These are lessons they may keep for a lifetime.

“These kids will go home and they’ll teach their parents,” said Bourbon. “They’re going to teach their friends and it’s just creating a community.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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