Last week marked the end of DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) program, which meant 17 young people wrapped up a six-week Culinary Arts intensive with LAYC’s Food & Nutrition Program.

Youth spent the summer at LAYC honing their cooking skills, learning about work opportunities in the food industry, and exploring foods from different cultures. They’ve also written blog entries to share what they’ve been up to; you can check out our previous posts herehere, and here.

The fifth week of the program gave youth an opportunity to learn about Latin American food and to dive into their final projects, developing a cookbook where each young person highlights a recipe that is meaningful to them.

D’Andre writes:

“Last week was a fun week for us at LAYC. On Monday, we had a presentation from our Latina group members, where they told us more about their ethnic background. On Tuesday, we made pupusas and catered an event for Hola Cultura. On Wednesday, some people worked on their final project cookbook pages and others cooked their final project recipes. Thursday was more of the same as Wednesday; me and a couple of others were cooking our final project recipes and we had fun doing it. Also, we had a guest chef named Benjamin from Carlos Rosario, who taught us how to cook “camarones con tomate” two ways: restaurant-style and how you would cook it at home. On Friday, my group and a couple other groups went to a beach and we had a cookout; it was really fun.”

You can read more about the pupusa-making for Hola Cultura in an article they wrote about our program here.

The final week of the program was a chance for youth to reflect on their summer experience and celebrate all that they had accomplished.

Jonae’ writes:

“This week is our last week, so we focused on wrapping up the program. My experience in LAYC’s Food & Nutrition Program has been a challenge because it pushed me out my comfort zone. This program taught me the importance of exploring different cultures and expanding my taste buds to many different cuisines. I am a very picky child so this was so hard for me but, if it wasn’t for the staff pushing me to explore, I probably would never have known I would like something other than southern cuisine. I really enjoyed myself; this program really opened my mind. I made plenty of good friends and I got the opportunity to meet such great chefs. Within this last week, we learned a lot and even decided to use the leftover food that we didn’t use throughout the program to create different dishes out of it. This made me realize how much food my family and I waste in a month that we can actually use to make a nutritious meal and save money. “

It’s been an amazing summer, and the cooking doesn’t end here. This fall there will be brand new cooking and nutrition classes popping up across LAYC, so keep an eye out for more young chefs cooking up a storm!

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