Jan Morgan, Morgan, Johnny W. | 5/27/2005 2:44:44 AM
A group of 4-H’ers from Plaquemines Parish were able to show off their culinary skills during a recent field trip to Emeril’s Homebase, the headquarters for Emeril’s Restaurants in New Orleans.
The youngsters, who had earned the chance to participate in the educational field trip as winners in their parish’s LSU AgCenter 4-H Cookery Contest, got to visit with chefs, learn more about gourmet cooking and participate in the preparation of dishes.
LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Jan Morgan said this is the second year she has been able to bring a group of local winners to Emeril’s Homebase.
"Last year was the first time that any group was allowed to have a field trip here, and my kids really enjoyed it," she said, adding, "They were allowed to prepare a pastry with the pastry chefs, and it really worked out well, so now it’s a yearly event."
Morgan said she’s able to set up two field trips for her 4-H’ers in grades 3 through 12 as a reward for winning their parish cooking contest.
The LSU AgCenter 4-H agent said the idea for such an educational field trip began after a conversation with a friend, Amanda Adolph, who is the chef at Woodlands Plantation near Port Sulphur.
"Amanda was a cookery contest winner when she was in 4-H, so hopefully by the children seeing the chefs at work, maybe some of my kids will go on to be chefs like Amanda did," Morgan said.
Kristy Amedee, the assistant warehouse manager at Emeril’s, said it’s really great to have the young people come through.
"It gives them a chance to get some hands-on experience," Amedee said. "Where they have been trying out their skills at home, here they can get some tips from professional chefs."
This year Amedee and the staff at Emeril’s gave the 4-H’ers a chance to prepare and eat a complete meal of grilled catfish with vegetables and a dessert.
In addition, the youngsters saw how foods are prepared in the test kitchen before they make it to the menu at one of Emeril’s restaurants. They also learned that all of the scripts for Emeril Lagasse’s New York-based cooking show are written at this New Orleans location.
Amedee said that Lagasse, the owner, was a chef at Commander’s Palace before opening his first restaurant in New Orleans in 1990. Now he owns nine restaurants across the country.
"This is just a great experience to have these kids come here," said Amedee, who was president of her Belle Chase 4-H Club in junior high.
Taylor Smith, a third grader and a first year 4-H Club member, said she wants to be a cook like the chefs at Emeril’s when she grows up.
For more information on the variety of 4-H activities, ranging from computers to pet care, and other educational programs offered by the LSU AgCenter, contact your parish AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.