Oxford Native, Cooking Enthusiast Loves to Spread Joy of Cooking With LOU Youths

By Jackson Solari
Hottytoddy.com intern
jjsolari@go.olemiss.edu

Children of the Oxford community recently had a chance to sharpen their skills and talents in the culinary arts with FUNdamentals Cooking Class for Kids.

FUNdamentals Cooking Class, specifically designed for children ages 8-13, focuses on teaching children how to properly prepare meals in the kitchen. The class, held at the Oxford Park Commission Stone Center building, starts with a beginner class and ends with an intermediate class. The class is taught by Oxford native Elizabeth Speed who prefers “hands-on teaching/learning styles” to impact the budding chefs.

Speed (left) and students eagerly wait for a turn stirring the homemade pesto dish. Photo by Jackson Solari.

Main points of the class consist of knife safety, culinary terms and how to read a recipe.

“The goal of the class is to have the kids be curious about what they are eating, to cook with and for their families, and to have an experience that helps them to become more independent,” Speed said. 

Children first began with appetizers, then moved on to soups and salads. They finished their courses with entrees (chicken pesto!) and desserts. Speed said she tries to integrate education into each class because she wants her students to enjoy the whole learning experience.

“I try to incorporate geography, science, vocabulary and sometimes literature or current events into each class so the students come away with more than just a recipe; they have a whole cooking experience,” she said.

Students happily prep their chicken to complete the pesto dish. Photo by Jackson Solari.

Speed said her passion for teaching ties into her love for cooking. The driving force behind Speed’s passion to start the FUNdamentals Cooking Class was the fact that she had the same version of the class from her mom. She knew she wanted to pass on that experience to her sons. 

“My mother was a teacher and she inspired me. I wanted my sons to learn and enjoy cooking, and so it grew organically from those two influences,” she said.

Speed said she began teaching cooking classes with an after-school club while she was a FoodCorps service member with Good Food for Oxford Schools. FoodCorps is an organization that helps connect children to healthy food in school so they can live healthier lives and reach their full potential, according to its website.

After Speed’s time in the FoodCorps, she still wanted to pursue service work. She didn’t see an oppurtunity for LOU children to learn cooking outside of their homes.

“I wanted to fill that niche,” she said. 

The final class of the summer ends tomorrow, July 12. Speed said she is working with OPC to schedule dates for at least two classes in the fall. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Speed at elizabethspeed74@gmail.com.


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