Cats Can Cook! at UNH

Naia Strong, 12, of Nottingham, makes pasta at Cats Can Cook!, a new summer camp started by UNH this year.

DURHAM — A new summer camp held last week at the University of New Hampshire was successful.

Twenty children between the ages of 10 and 13 participated in Cats Can Cook!, a three-day camp with executive chefs from UNH Hospitality Services.

On Thursday, participants picked vegetables grown on campus and brought them back to Stillings Dining Hall, where they prepared a buffet for their parents.

Chef Todd Sweet is the assistant director of culinary services at UNH. He said the students were engaged during the camp sessions and were already using their new skills at home.

“They’ve been bringing in stories of what they’ve made already. One camper made crepes this morning,” Sweet said.

Chefs Zac Marshall and Jonathan Saiff said that, for some of the campers, this was the first time they had tried just-picked produce.

“For a lot of them, it’s an example of how food should taste,” Saiff said.

In the kitchen, Zach Cook, 12, of Rochester, who was chopping fresh vegetables for stir fry, said he might like to be a chef one day.

When asked what he had learned, he said, “how to cook crepes and how to know when something is cooked to take it off the stove.”

Ally Beck, 10, of Rochester, was stirring marina sauce for homemade pasta.

“I’ve learned how to work a stove and to crack an egg without the shell in it,” Beck said.

Luca DeGrappo, 12, of Eliot, Maine, said she might try cooking more at home after the camp.

“My mom will definitely appreciate it if I do,” DeGrappo said.

Bill McNamara, executive director of hospitality services at UNH, said the school had started planning for the summer camp last year around this time. The university would like to expand the program in the future.

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