Following the success of our Cool! I Can Cook! educational program, DSAA thrived to offer a program to our younger members to introduce them to cooking as it such a way of life in our Cajun culture. DSAA created and developed a program called ‘Young Chefs’ in the Fall of 2019. We initially offered 2 classes to our members and based upon the feedback and participation; we would consider adding this educational event annually. Due to the tremendous success of this event, DSAA has chosen to implement this program quarterly beginning in 2020 and changed the name to Cool! I Can Cook, Jr.! This program is offered quarterly and held at Top’s Appliances and Cabinetry’s commercial kitchen and led by Doctor Joni Orazio, who specializes in infant, child, adolescent and adult psychiatry in private practice. Having a strong interest in nutritional needs, Joni cultivated that interest by attending the Tulane Goldring Institute for Culinary Medicine. She is currently in the final training of this two-year program and has blended nutritional counseling with her private practice. Her desire is to promote and support individualism and independence and uses the kitchen as an arena to help attain some of those goals by learning how to cook nutritious and high-quality meals that can help maintain medical health.
This program is designed for special needs individuals ages 10 – 14 and allows them to gain understanding in kitchen safety, cooking vocabulary, identifying and using tools, reading and following a recipe and preparing for and planning a cooking project. The main objective and focus of this program is to introduce them to basic kitchen skills using minimal to no cutting. Because of the age group and each participant’s various skill level, this class was developed to be adaptable to each and every participant’s needs. DSAA thrives to increase each person’s independence at home and within the community by this program. We have school-aged volunteers who assist each participant throughout the class.
Before each class, the participants are taught basic kitchen safety rules such as no running in the kitchen, importance of close-toed shoes and keeping hair tied back. Then, they are instructed and assisted with proper hand washing prior to prepping any food. Each participant is presented with a folder which contains handouts and well as coloring sheets which promote a healthy diet and lifestyle.