PITTSFIELD >> Thirteen cooks in a kitchen? It's not a problem at the kids cooking class series at Eat on North.
Since the spring, the restaurant of Hotel on North has opened its doors to some of the youngest aspiring chefs and foodies, ages 6 to 15, living in or visiting the area.
This past Wednesday, a baker's dozen attended a class led by Chef de Cuisine Ron Reda, with three assisting staff members: communications coordinator Noel Henebury, event coordinator Kerri McNamara and guest experience manager Brittany Hover.
Reda, who more recently took the reins of the kitchen and the program said he's glad to help add this program to the restaurant's menu of events and activities.
"I think it's a great idea to expose kids to the restaurant world and even food, so they know where it comes from and how it's prepared. It's fun to do," said Reda, "and something I'd like to be able to open up for adults, too."
The program is set up in what's formerly known as the restaurant's pastry kitchen, which can comfortably accommodate about 20 students, all the basic kitchen equipment and counter space, while providing an intimate learning atmosphere.
This past week's menu included making a salad with fresh greens, local tomatoes and homemade dressing and croutons; meatballs from scratch with spaghetti, and cinnamon-sugar crisps with a sweetened mascarpone cheese for dipping.
The kids appeared to be pretty good about following the instructions on preparing the meal courses, but not so much on cleaning in between. Many were more interested, as kids tend to be, in socializing and turning the latex safety gloves into balloons.
The students worked in teams of four to six, and got to make up names for their respective cooking crews. This session's culinary teams included, "Team Animal," "Team Awesome," "Team Sisters," and "Team Camdyn Hates Tomatoes."
"Yes," said the latter team's namesake, 11-year-old Camdyn McKillop of Pittsfield. "It's true. I hate tomatoes. But I love food."
He's attended pretty much every kids cooking session at Eat on North, noting that his favorite activity was learning how to make gnocchi, Italian style soft dough dumplings. His favorite way to serve them is with "butter and a little bit of parmesan."
"It's cool getting to learn how to make it so I can cook it again at home," McKillop said.
His teammate, Zander Tardibuono, agreed. Making long sheets of pasta dough is in his Italian heritage, he said, and something he loves to do.
The kids aren't the only ones learning a thing or two with the program. "I'm learning from this, too," said event coordinator, Kerri McNamara. "I don't cook, but I hope these kids, like me, are feeling the excitement from working with the food, getting their hands dirty, and having fun."
Cooking classes at Eat on North
Cooking classes have been offered to kids on nearly a monthly basis, though the schedule is subject to change with the start of the school year. Typically, classes are limited to 20 participants between the ages of 6 and 15 years old. The cost is $25 per child, and includes two hours of cooking, time to eat on site, and food to take home. Learn about upcoming kids programs, and possible classes for adults by calling 413-358-4741.