Return to Headlines

DHH Students Prepare Meals with Professional Chef

January 11, 2022 - Deaf/hard of hearing students at Hazelwood Central High School spent DHH students prepare meals with Chef Lydia Gwin. eight weeks getting their hands messy in the kitchen while working with Chef Lydia Gwin in the Teens Cooking Academy. Students participated in Learning the Basics in the Kitchen for their Independent Living class after social worker Alicia Firman received a $1,500 SSD SEF mini grant last year. Students learned the basics of how to follow and read a recipe, safety and proper usage of knives, measuring items, budgeting, creating a shopping list, and cooking time.

“I felt that it was important to make sure the students learned how to make basic meals and use basic kitchen skills to support them in the future,” said Firman. “Many of the students have expressed plans to live independently after high school and the kitchen is a place that is not often thought about when it comes to independent living.”

Prior to each class, students practiced new vocabulary words and cooking techniques, and watched videos related to the skills they would be learning. The first half of the program focused on following recipes provided by the chef. By the end of the program, students were planning and preparing their own meals.

“Students picked three recipes to present and prepare with their peers,” said Firman. “Some of the meals they made were popcorn chicken, cheese fries, hamburgers, shrimp tostadas, pasta salad, and cupcakes.”

Senior Jasmine Martinez learned how to cook food she had never made and senior Marques Ray learned how to cook his favorite food: popcorn chicken. 

“The students really enjoyed it and looked forward to the classes,” said Teacher June Peterson. “Independent living skills, such as cooking, are important and will be used by our students their whole lives.”

The Deaf/hard of hearing instructional team is currently working on submitting another grant to continue the program next year. Teacher Angela Aromando says the most rewarding part was watching the students gain confidence. 

“This program should absolutely continue, and we hope it will continue for years to come,” said Aromando. “Not only did our students learn valuable cooking skills, but they were proud of their work and felt so good about the dishes they created.”

On the last day of the program, the students presented Chef Lydia with a personalized apron. The students were given cookbooks with hand-picked recipes.