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Chef teaches lifelong passion at MU

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COOK: Chef Chris Fogerty demonstrates how to prepare a tofu dish as part of a cuisine seminar at Manchester University.
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OMELETTE: Students learn how to make omelettes in the kitchen at Manchester University.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

 A Manchester University chef is hoping to inspire students in the kitchen by leading them through the fourth annual Manchester University Cuisine Camp.

Chef Chris Fogerty says the educational seminar was originally meant to be a basic cooking course, but it has evolved since then.

“My own kids were starting to get interested in cooking at home, and I thought why not see if we can pass it on to more kids around and spark an interest,” Fogerty said.

This year’s focus in on global cuisine, with students learning meals inspired by places such Taiwan, Ethiopia and the Philippines. Meals will include a variety of techniques, including open-fire cooking.

The camp will conclude with students working in pairs to prepare a recipe from home. The only requirement, Fogerty said, is that it has to be a recipe from another country.

“They have the entire afternoon to prepare and cook their dish, and then they present it to be judged,” he explained. “That’s how they pass their camp.”

While Fogerty says he has seen plenty of returning faces, each student receives a recipe file from a Google document for students who are unable to come in previous years, which encourages campers to continue cooking. Students this year will receive their own collection of spices and recipe packets to encourage cooking as a family.

Among those taking part this year are Annabelle Smith, who said this is her first year, and Grace Smith, who is returning for her second year. Annabelle said she wanted to learn how to cook better, while Grace said she wanted to get new experiences with cooking, as she has always loved it.

“The experiences are really fun and the food is great afterwards,” Grace said.

Fogerty says he knows firsthand what kind of an impact opening students to cooking can have, as he got his start when he was 17 at the Kokiwanee Nature Preserve, where he said his mom was the council president when it was still a Girl Scout camp. After the chef left mid-season, Fogerty said she asked if he would help in the kitchen.

“I got to stay in a cabin, go fishing and cook food,” he said. “It was like the perfect summer for me.”

Fogerty says he keeps in touch with some former students and their families by sending recipes.

This year’s Cuisine Camp is the largest ever held, Fogerty advised. He plans to expand his offerings into multiple cuisine camps and seminars, possibly even for adults.