Young cooks get creative in the kitchen

Liam Gallary, 9, of Wilton, mixes up some cookie dough at healthy Kids Cooking Camp. – Tony Spinelli photo
Liam Gallary, 9, of Wilton, mixes up some cookie dough at healthy Kids Cooking Camp. – Tony Spinelli photo

Some kids go to summer camp to learn how to swim, or do karate. Nine-year-old Liam Gallary of Wilton has a more home-oriented pursuit: he’s learning to cook.

“I like to mix it up, and mash it up,” Liam said Aug. 2 on the final day of his week at Healthy Kids Cooking Camp, a summer camp presented at Wilton Congregational Church by Nouveau Nutrition, a nutritional consultancy run by Kira Pantschenko of Westport.

Liam, who will soon be 10, was busy helping to mix up the dough for a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

He was one of 10 kids enrolled in the camp last week, including three others from Wilton, siblings Gibson, Gabriela and Greysen Gismondi, who are triplets and not yet five.

They all wore white chef’s hats, and the first lesson when they walked into the kitchen at the church was to wash their hands thoroughly.

Then the fun began.

“Today we are making kid-friendly fried rice, and pineapple  chicken, with double chocolate chip cookies with chocolate chunks, and baked French fries,” Pantschenko said in the kitchen, which she has rented from the church for the summer.

Cooking sounds just about right to young Gibson Gismondi, who is four and a half.

“I want to be a football player when I grow up, and cook,” he said. “I want to play for the Steelers.”

Cooking is an important life skill, for sure, but cooking healthy is even more important, Pantschenko said. That’s why she’s emphasizing healthy cooking techniques for her young charges, including replacing oil in a recipe whenever possible with applesauce.

“I’m a nutritionist who loves to cook,” Pantschenko said.

Clearly, she gets a lot of positive feedback from her young students. She showed a picture of some flowers that the Gismondi children had brought her.

“This is my paycheck,” she said, smiling. “I have the best job in the world, teaching children to cook healthy.”