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Wegmans Food Markets’ annual Culinary Teen Camp program, which enable teenagers to spend a week learning from professional chefs, will take place at stores in Pittsford and Williamsville, N.Y., this July and August. Spaces are still open for applicants.
To encourage students to enter the program, Wegmans holds an essay contest to select one scholarship recipient each from the Rochester and Buffalo areas. This year’s essay question was “What has inspired you to want to learn more about cooking?” A Wegmans panel awarded 15-year-old Rebecca and 15-year-old Claire for their outstanding essays. Both will take part in Culinary Camp.
The program offers two levels: the introductory Culinary Teen Camp 1, and Culinary Teen Camp 2, for those who have completed the first camp. Wegmans Executive Chefs Mark Makovec (Pittsfield) and Jeff Lunney (Williamsville) will conduct the classes. Open to kids ages 12 to 18, the camps cost $450 per entrant.
"The most exciting thing is seeing the difference this experience makes for campers," noted Angela Volta, cooking school manager at Rochester-based Wegmans. "A few kids already have a fair amount of cooking experience at home – maybe they start dinner for the family before their parents get home from work. Kids like this are primed to take their skills to the next level and get excited about adding to the dishes they already know how to make. Other kids have watched the Food Network but want some hands-on practice with a real chef. We do a short presentation in all of the camps on culinary careers, to help kids realize that if they enjoy working with food, there are dozens of different kinds of jobs out there that they might like and be good at."
Since the program began in 2007, 567 teens have completed the camps held by Wegmans, and a number of Culinary Camp grads have enrolled at professional culinary schools, have started working at food-connected jobs -- or both.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 83 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.