Here we are featuring an Inspiring story of Chef Arlena having Passion for cooking since childhood. Moreover she works on healthy society development by teaching cooking to kids so that they can become self dependent, responsible and consume delicious healthy food.

Cooking passion story by Arlena Mam

I grew up in a kitchen, where cooking was enjoyed, not a chore. My mother cooked most often and enjoyed trying new recipes as well as making foods she grew up with in her Italian American family. She would tell stories of food memories she had with her grandparents and get togethers completely centered on course after course of beautiful dishes. The rich smells that came from her kitchen created lasting memories for me and some of them feel significant to me to re- create in order to fully enjoy certain holidays properly. My father would cook from time to time, and had his specialty dishes, that usually cooked all in one pot, but cooked the entire day. He would enjoy himself all day long checking on his creation and adding a little more of this or that. He would turn on some music and enjoy his day in the kitchen, giving a little stir here and there. He came from an Irish American family and I can tell you my grandmother wasn’t a great cook. She was a fabulous baker and even baked and decorated wedding cakes professionally. Most of my siblings enjoy cooking as well, and put a lot of effort into learning kitchen skills and eating wonderfully prepared foods.

When I realized of Desire for cooking or Say Cooking Passion

I am forever grateful for the joy my parents expressed in the kitchen, it created a desire in me to want to explore that and enjoy the seeming symphony of creation that they danced to. I remember the first time I was asked to cook something, I was twelve .

When I was thirteen, I was in a home economics class and we did a section on sewing and a section on cooking. This is where I realized I wasn’t a bad cook in comparison to others my age.

I had placed my education on the back burner in order to move to the town where my husband was enrolled in school and finishing up on a degree that would later take us all over the world. I focused on helping bring in funds to our little, but growing family, and enjoyed learning how to budget and cook for them. Money was scarce, and creativity was high. I would often think about what I would like to do when I got to go back to school. It seemed like an impossibility with two tiny little girls and a husband still in college.

This was back in the day when you would need to go to the library to use the internet, and doing research on a career field wasn’t as easy as it is now. There was a commercial on TV for a culinary program that was in a “Hybrid” format. This was completely new and I had no idea what that even meant. I had to send away for the information. I wrote to a culinary school based out of England (so far away and fancy) The International Culinary School. They sent information back to me via the mailbox, which is so dated I know! The information said they would send text books, study guides and recipes. They would make connection with a local school for me to allow me to go in for tests and “lab” times but most my studying would be at home. This was an amazing opportunity, but a little scary. It is now common place to take a hybrid course, but it wasn’t back then. I finished that up in 1997 and specialized in catering. This was the same time my husband graduated and we packed up our little family and moved to Germany.

I had so many great experiences cooking for the local community I lived in. It was wonderful to be celebrated for brining wonderful American food to the area and I was so happy to be at the events, and share my creations. I even had a wonderful friend who would work with me as the events got larger and larger.

children's culinary institute

Things changed a bit in 2009, My husband was going to be away for work for quite some time, my two oldest were in High school and pretty self sufficient. I was looking into picking up catering again possibly, and thinking about what my options might be. My youngest was making dinner and a friend stopped over. She saw my 7 year old turning chicken breasts in a pan and was stunned. She requested that I teach her children as well. Her kids, my kids and before you knew it a few more would come along. One day my youngest had a few girl friends over who all wanted to cook and I thought to myself, maybe this is what I need to be doing. I spent the entire summer writing a curriculum, looking up recipes that would teach specific skills, vocabulary words, use a variety of tools and build confidence in these kids. In August of 2010 I started my first classes.

When it was My First Class

It was trial and error for a little while, how much food per class, how many kids per lesson, how long does it take kids to make something that takes me 15 minutes, budgeting the lessons so it is financially beneficial to me whiteout over burdening families. I had it just about perfected when it came time to move.

I moved on and began the building process again. I was teaching cooking at a local fitness center and they encouraged me to seek a nutrition certification. I got certified as a “Child Nutrition Specialist” Very quickly my classes were full of excited kids, I developed a nutrition program, and….. it was time to move . Once again I left another mom in charge of what I had created. This process went on for three more moves and I was receiving phone calls from other places and people who wanted to be able to use my materials to teach cooking classes in their area. Together we created an alliance of small cooking school instructors and supported one another. We logged all of our learning experiences for those who would join us in the future and enjoy the success and rewards of a job that is not only fun, but necessary for every human and not as commonly accessible anymore.

In 2020 when quiet time was more plentiful than anyone would have wanted, my brother approached me about writing a book. I have worked with hundreds of kids at this point and some I can see have knowledge, but maybe not skill. Some of the kids I have worked with are still learning different foods and the flavors. So, I sat down and contemplated the idea and wrote a book. Here are some ways that you can insure your kids have the confidence, and skills to prepare for themselves a brighter food future.

Thoughts behind Chef Arlena’s Passion

She said- By far the most important, we are all humans and our bodies are amazing tools that can help us through so much long happy life if we treat them right and feed them right. The more real food cooked fresh at home that we can feed our body, the closer we are to using these amazing tools as they are intended!
So this is why I teach kids to cook, because I love it and because it is important! It is why I created a full in-depth curriculum and why I help and mentor others who want to help me reach kids everywhere by becoming instructors of my curriculum. Follow me on Instagram at children’s culinary institute.


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