Finding a Culinary Education at Home and Beyond


By Rob Lewis/Veteran to Farmer Training Program Manager

We are defined equally by what we run from as much as what we embrace.

This is a lesson I have tried to impart to my two daughters with what I can only hope is great success. At 10 and 19, these young ladies struggle with the weight of fear and the unknown as much as the rest of us, but their willingness to accept challenges and put life’s inevitable pitfalls in perspective often shines through.

I think that much of their abilities to break apart life’s big problems into smaller ones and embrace complexities has been taught to them in the kitchen by their mother. Just as she learned from her own mother (and her mother learned from her own), the insistence of an “all hands on deck” approach to meal preparation is a family tradition that I hope these girls pass onto their own children.

Despite being raised on a multi-generational family farm, I was not lucky enough to have grown up in a house where cooking was encouraged. I do have a few go-to meals that I can prepare in a pinch, but I’m generally relegated to the clean-up crew.

My oldest daughter has had this culinary education reinforced by working part-time for Chef Stephanie in the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen. She’s been able to see firsthand what it takes to source, prepare and present amazingly delicious food on a larger scale.

Even with this core set of culinary competencies under her belt, I’d still offer her the opportunity to attend Chef Stephanie’s upcoming “Teen Culinary Series” if not for the fact that her summer job (with the Turner Farm Crop Production team) prevents her being available.

The five-part, in-depth, hands-on class with a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America is the sort of experience I could count on being positively life altering. The greatest gifts we can give our children are love, an ability to live through skillful means and the confidence to explore. While no teen who completes the course will come out the other end ready to knock down a six-course meal for 30 guests, they will be prepared for life beyond their parents’ homes in a world where fast food and other bad food choices seem like the cost-effective way to go.

Handling knives. Sourcing ingredients. Mastering basic cooking techniques.

These are the sorts of skills that my children are learning at home but too many American children are heading off to college or their own place in the world without having this in their life skills toolset.

As parents, we have plenty of fears for our children as they head out on their own. Just as I try to teach my children, it’s important to figure out not just what we fear, but what we can embrace.


If you;d like to learn more about Teen Culinary Series, check out the ticketing page here.

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