SALEM — Yesterday’s lunch at the Boys and Girls Club wasn’t hamburgers and hot dogs. Dishes ranged from baked stuffed shrimp wrapped in prosciutto to a portabella mushroom stuffed with sausage, cheese and rice.
But it wasn’t a gourmet Italian chef who prepared the meals. It was all made by 10 teenagers.
For the culmination of a 10-week junior chef program, the teens prepared a four-course meal — with help from Tuscan Kitchen.
“It was really cool,” said Sarah Mersereau, 17, of Salem. “These are real people teaching us real things, so it was really cool to be a part of that.”
Eddie Payne, the corporate executive chef at Tuscan Kitchen, helped train the teenagers in his craft. He taught them everything from sauteing mushrooms and baking bread to kitchen safety and cleaning tips.
“Every week, they get together with me and we work on something new,” Payne said. “It’s basically like an Italian school.”
Yesterday, was the grand finale of the program, which was funded by Tuscan Kitchen.
Each teen made a dish and served it to 30 residents and local business owners. They were also presented with their own chef’s jacket with their names embroidered on them.
Each diner made a $100 donation, which will go toward the program in the future.
The dishes served wouldn’t be found in a beginner’s cookbook. Each dish was based on something that is on the menu at Tuscan Kitchen.
Many of the teens had previous experience cooking. Several participate in the culinary program at Salem High School.
“I have a passion for cooking,” said Max Wildfeuer, 17, of Salem. “I’m glad we were able to do this over the summer.”
Mersereau said she hopes the course will help her on her way to a future career.
“I’m really interested in food sciences,” she said. “We’re learning under a chef, but he really knows everything when it comes to operating a restaurant.”