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Empower L.A. Week Two: What is Food to You?

on August 12 | in News & Updates, Uncategorized | by | with No Comments

The momentum from Week One carried over as we moved into Week Two: pesto, smoothies, Italian delicacies, and pan-seared salmon were on the menu as students became increasingly more acquainted with their new kitchen.

Every week, we will welcome a guest chef into our Empower L.A. kitchen who will engage with the students during a unique and interactive guest lecture. The first ever guest chef for Empower L.A. Class Four was Chef Massimo Navaretta, coming to L.A. Kitchen from Onotria Wine Country Cuisine.

Accompanied by representatives from the Violence Research Foundation, Chef Massimo inspired the students to dream up and create beautiful Italian-based dishes under his watchful guidance. He first had each student take a step back and consider the following simple, yet deeply personal question: What is food to you? He then directed the students’ attention to a selection of fresh ingredients located in the corner of the kitchen, had them split into teams, and told them to get cooking.

Magic ensued.

 

Empower L.A. Students working together to compile their dishes

Empower L.A. Students working together to compile their dishes

 

Chef Massimo assisting students at the stovetop

Chef Massimo assisting students at the stovetop

 

Empower L.A. Class Four students Jesus and Rojelio preparing their dish

Empower L.A. Class Four students Rogelio and Jesus preparing their dish

 

One group’s completed dessert: a delicate lemon-infused yogurt with a blend of berries and chocolate

One group’s completed dessert: a delicate lemon-infused yogurt with a blend of berries and chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Chef Massimo posing with the students after the lesson

 

Once students’ culinary appetites were whetted, we could not keep them out of the kitchen. After thoroughly impressing Chef Massimo and everyone else at L.A. Kitchen, Class Four came together under the guidance of Lead Chef Instructor Carrie Hildebrand to create a beautiful dish featuring pan-seared salmon under a blanket of Israeli couscous salad, caramelized onions, and roasted cauliflower, topped with a dollop of tzatziki sauce and a slice of grilled lemon.

 

Empower L.A. student Aarica preparing the cucumber for the tzatziki sauce

Empower L.A. student Aarica preparing the cucumber for the tzatziki sauce

 

Empower L.A. student Peter searing the salmon

Empower L.A. student Peter searing the salmon

 

After a couple of hours of collaborative cooking, an assembly line was formed and 35 exquisitely beautiful dishes were plated.

 

Chef Carrie posing with Empower L.A. student Maria

Chef Carrie posing with Empower L.A. student Maria

 

And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.

 

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The future looks ripe as we move into Week 3. There remains much to be learned both in and out of the kitchen: much teamwork to be displayed, many stories to be shared, much laughter to be had, and much food to be cooked and consumed in the weeks to come.

My taste buds yearn for whatever these amazingly talented students decide to cook up next.

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