On a recent evening, the aroma of vegetarian dishes filled the kitchen of St. George’s By the River Episcopal Church in Rumson. The clattering of pots and pans and the friendly banter of the students was interrupted by directions of “Mackenzie, check on your rice!,” and “Leela, lower the flame!”
When Leela Srinivasan, Jacquelyn (Jackie) Bruckmann, and Meredith Apicella cooked up the idea last year to begin a new club at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, they dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to publicizing the venture and drumming up interest.
As a result of their hard work, 17 RFH students now participate actively in the creation of delicious meals and the exploration of exciting cuisines.
RFH Head Librarian Linda Wien Murray is the Advisor to the Cooking Club, now in its first year at RFH. Murray, who earned a degree in pastry at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City, also supervised a program of cooking classes for Brookdale Community College from 1998 – 2003.
“I am excited to be a part of the Cooking Club, because this type of activity appeals to a wide variety of students,” said Murray. “It’s wonderful that the students are experiencing many different types of cuisine, and discovering techniques and working with ingredients they had never heard of before joining this club.”
The agreement for the students’ use of the kitchen at St. George’s is a win-win situation, as the Cooking Club provides leftovers for use by the church.
Prior to each hands-on cooking session, the students work together to select the type of cuisine and determine the menu. Murray pre-tests the recipes chosen by the club, and the students purchase the ingredients. After cooking and enjoying the fruits of their labor, the students are responsible for clean-up.
The club has been quite active in its inaugural year. A Pasta Workshop was held at Taste and Technique Professional Cooking Studio in Fair Haven in November, and Club Advisor Murray taught the basics of baking during an event in December. The students made good use of the holiday treats they created at the December workshop by hosting a bake sale to raise funds for upcoming activities. These include planned cooking/baking workshops at Taste and Technique on February 21 and May 16, and a cooking event at St. George’s on March 28.
In addition to the three RFH seniors who founded the Cooking Club, actively involved members include Emily Boak, Madeline (Maddy) Burpee, Janie DeVito, Mackenzie Haskell, Anne Himmelsbach, Katelyn Kearney, Jourdan Lenskold, Madeline (Maddie) Makstein, Siera McDaid, Lindsey Mulligan, Jenna Sandoli, Nicole Vuong, and Kaitlin Wallace. RFH Spanish Teacher Fidelina Racanelli and RFH Guidance Counselor Chrissy Camp also provide assistance with Cooking Club activities.