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Hi! I’m Chef Adam. I have to confess that I’m the one getting your camper kids to ask you to buy them papaya. And I’m the one showing them that there’s more to a grilled cheese than just white bread and American cheese. I’m the chef-owner of Schwartzie’s Kitchen, a personal chef and in-home catering company based out of Fanwood and I do the cooking instruction at Camp Yachad this summer.
A few years ago I came here with my wife and soon to be born Chaverim camper. We were delighted to find a flourishing JCC in this area as we hunted for homes. Once we landed our catch, one of the first things we did was visit the JCC and met the wonderful and delightful Caren Goldberg. Hook, line and sinker and we’ve been members ever since, enjoying the fitness center, participating in the Ha’Derech leadership development program, Early Childhood program and of course, Camp Yachad.
After teaching the After School at the J cooking classes since January, I now get to do the same with the Camp Yachad campers. Each week I get to entertain the kids (and counselors) with new foods and fun recipes. The first week we made fruit salad where a lot of the kids tried papaya for the first time. They made a dressing with lime juice, agave nectar & mint and even had to cut up their fruit. For week two we made pasta salad where the kids made a dressing before mixing bow tie pasta and vegetables (the broccoli was a big hit). This past week I brought out two electric griddles and we made gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Most of the campers chose to make the sweet “Apple Pie” option with Muenster cheese, apple pie filling and a cinnamon-sugar crust on raisin bread.
We do our class outside and some of the kids are picky eaters while some of them don’t like it before they even see what we are doing. But we have three rules in cooking class: 1) we clean our hands before we start, 2) everyone has to participate and make what we are making and 3) we have to try it. And when we are done and it’s time to eat what we’ve made, some don’t like it or just don’t want to eat. But then there are those campers that make one of the counselors wait for them to finish their entire dish or I see a camper trying papaya for the first time. Just seeing their smiles and waves as they pass me in the hallways, I know that something cool is happening. And it’s happening at Camp Yachad. And it’s happening with papaya.