Your pint-sized sous chef loves to help out with dinner prep. Foster that culinary talent at the Portland Farmer’s Market’s summer series, Kids Cook at the Market. We checked it out (someone has to do the hard work!) and we’re convinced that Portland’s future culinary masters are learning their trade and filling their bellies, one bunch of organic kale at a time. Read on for the scoop.

What’s the Deal?
Junior chefs are invited to participate in this Saturday morning class throughout the summer, right in the center of Portland’s cherished farmer’s market at PSU. Cooks-in-training learn culinary skills including— thankfully— the importance of hand-washing, seasonality of food, the process it takes to get different foods to the market and how to approach the farmers and ask appropriate questions about what they are buying.

What’s Cooking?
After a guided market tour to pick up the necessary ingredients, the cooks are given a recipe to take home and a briefing of the steps it will take to make that day’s dish. Each Saturday features a different educational focus (think sustainable, grass-fed beef one week and fresh, organic berries the next). Knife-handling skills, lessons on avoiding cross-contamination and other tricks of the trade are sprinkled throughout the class as each cook gets a hands-on lesson from professionals who know what’s up.

What Else Is Happening?
These classes are quite popular, with some students attending weekly and returning from one year to the next (how’s that for a testament of quality?). Classes are capped at 15 kiddos, so you will definitely want to pre-register. There are several ways to do so, which are listed on the website, but keep in mind that the fee is required at the time of registration.

Here’s the icing on the masterfully-decorated cake: since this class is offered to ages 7-11, parents are asked to leave a cell phone number but are not required to stay for the duration of the class. This means that after dropping off your master-chef-in-the-making, you have approximately 60-90 minutes to wander Portland’s finest farmer’s market and do some meal-planning of your own!

When: Saturdays, mid-June through August, 8:30-10 a.m.
Where: Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU, SW Park and SW Montgomery
Ages: 7-11
Cost: $10 per class
Online: portlandfarmersmarket.org

What have your kids been cooking up in the kitchen? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

— Marianne Walters

All photos courtesy of Marianne Walters.

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