“Farm-to-Table” Concept is Inspiration for new Excursions in Learning Cooking Course

MANCHESTER, Conn. (April 12, 2019) – MCC’s Continuing Education program for gifted and talented youth, Excursions in Learning, will offer a new course as part of the summer 2019 session that is built on the increasingly vital “farm-to-table” culinary model. Registration for Excursions in Learning is now open. Visit www.manchestercc.edu/excursions.

The course, “Advanced Youth Culinary Institute: Summer Farm Fresh Cooking,” is aimed at experienced culinary students in grades 5 through 8. It meets Monday through Friday, June 24 to 28. The fee is $325.

Chef Rachael LaPorte, an International Caterers Association award-winning natural food chef, is the course instructor. The farm-to-table movement has arisen relatively recently with increased concerns and attitudes regarding food safety and security, food freshness, food seasonality, food traceability and small-farm economics.

“People who follow the farm-to-table model are concerned with the scarcity of fresh and local ingredients, as well as the poor quality of products shipped from afar and not knowing what they contain,” said LaPorte, who was raised on a self-sustaining family farm in Lebanon, Conn., and is founder and executive chef of Azuluna, a chef-crafted, farmer-owned meal delivery service providing nutritionally balanced meals made with responsibly sourced ingredients from local farms. LaPorte holds a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University and a master’s degree in education and curriculum development from Central Connecticut State University.

Fresh summer produce will be the basis for planning and preparing locally sourced delicious meals, according to LaPorte. “Student chefs will learn the art of ancient daily bread and butter making,” she said. “We will also make jams, jellies and conserves, learn spice blending and sauce making. The course will provide information on creating nutritionally balanced snacks and meals out of local vegetables, eggs, meats and grains.”

Daily planning sessions will have students creating menus based on native crops and environmental sustainability. In the process, they’ll learn how to positively impact the food system through their choices.

“Children’s minds are very open to new ideas, and they can create good cooking and eating habits early on,” LaPorte said. “This experience will allow the school-age children to learn to prepare food from scratch and then share these skills with friends and family.”

She added, “Food insecurity — and not knowing exactly where our food comes from and what we’re putting into our bodies — is a major issue in society. Going back to the fundamentals of cooking is an important skill that can majorly transform our nutrition and food experiences.”

Students will savor their creations with a daily classroom meal, in which they’ll talk about their cooking experience while enjoying their food and participating in the art of fine dining and table decorum. On the last day of the class, families will be invited to enjoy the students’ creations.

Now in its 33rd year, Excursions in Learning offers more than 40 classes in a unique college-campus environment. Other courses of interest include Underwater Robotics, Leadership: Team Building and Ropes Course Challenge, STEM-tastic, and Advanced Clay and Ceramics.