CHICAGO -- Kitchen Possible founder Katie Lowman said she was impressed with the bright flavor of 10-year-old Kevin Calderon's strawberry-blueberry crepes at the non-profit's recent cooking class at Gads Hill Center in Chicago.
"Did you squeeze some extra lemon on there?" said Lowman. "You've got a really nice finish on that one."
Calderon is one of many students, 8 to 12 years old, who attend Kitchen Possible's weekly cooking classes in Chicago's Pilsen, East Garfield Park and Hyde Park neighborhoods. Lowman founded the organization several years ago because she wanted to use her home cooking talents to do something meaningful for underserved kids.
"On any day when I'm feeling out of control, nothing makes me feel more in control and powerful than cooking," said Lowman. "Kitchen Possible is all about bringing that feeling to kids who need it the most."
Through its Empowering Menu Fundraiser, Kitchen Possible was supported by 35 leading restaurants in Chicago including Frontier, Steingold's of Chicago, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Esmé. Earlier this year, Kitchen Possible was the charity partner for Chicago Restaurant Week's First Bites Bash and three students who participated in the program were able to cook for the attendees.
"There's nothing like seeing the face of a kid who thought they couldn't make something, who got in there and tried really hard, and ultimately made something amazing," said Lowman. "It's one of the best feelings I've ever felt."
Kitchen Possible volunteer Brittany Williams said kids are enriched by the program and even cook the recipes they learn in the classroom at home for their families.
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"I think when you're a kid, food seems magical," said Williams. "When they cook it themselves I feel like they have a more intimate understanding of what goes into preparing food and it demystifies cooking for them."
"We end up going straight to the grocery store to buy a lot of the ingredients that we don't have," said Dolly Argüello, whose son Pedro attends the cooking classes. "Given that there's a lack of resources in the community, it benefits a lot of the kids here."
Lowman said Kitchen Possible is more than just teaching kids cooking skills. She also imbues every recipe with life lessons like the need to persevere.
"We help them to feel confident in their ability to make things happen as they learn to make food and we talk about and learn things that can set them up for success far outside of the kitchen," said Lowman.
Six years into its founding, Lowman says her goal for Kitchen Possible is to recruit more volunteer leaders and start classes in other neighborhoods. She said the work can be overwhelming but running the organization has helped her to feel she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.
"There's nothing I'm more proud of in my life," said Lowman. "It has grown in a way that's just really, really cool."
For more information on Kitchen Possible, visit kitchenpossible.org