Cultivating Budding Chefs at Highland Village Farmers' Market

Last weekend I skipped my usual Saturday stop at the Eastside Urban Harvest Farmers' Market, and instead opted to visit the Sunday Urban Harvest Farmers' Market at Highland Village (2720 Suffolk at Westheimer) so I could check out their new cooking and nutrition class for kids. "Stick a Fork in It" was created by Kellie Karavias, a certified teacher and "foodie" who is also Houston ISD's very first elementary Culinary Arts Educator. Kellie is presently heading up the Culinary Arts program at Eleanor Tinsley Elementary School.

When I first got to Kellie's table, she was chopping fresh strawberries with her son. The day's menu featured "Tickle Me Pink" pancakes for Mother's Day. Kellie told me she wants to bring an appreciation for food and cooking to a new generation, one that she's observed as less engaged in where their food comes from. She is growing a beautiful organic garden with her students at Tinsley.

Kellie's classes at the farmers' market will use the fresh, local, seasonal ingredients found at the vendors' tables: Her "Tickle Me Pink" pancakes were tinted a pretty pink using beet juice, and her fresh-brewed mint tea was sweetened with agave nectar, which has a lower Glycemic index than sugar.

Stick a Fork's mission statement reads: "We're done ... with childhood obesity, hunger, and sedentary lifestyles! Growing healthy kids is hot as a Habanero, and the time to raise our forks--pitched or pronged--is now!" The program has been featured on ABC News Now and on the Cooking Channel, and Kellie has been able to create and expand her mission using a $20,000 grant from Hidden Valley Ranch.

Kellie will be offering up three classes each Sunday at the Highland Village Market: 10 a.m.-11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; 1 p.m.-2 p.m. for up to 10 kids per class. Kids ages 5 and up are welcome, and classes are $25 each (cash or check only, please).

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Christina Uticone