PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local Teens Learn Culinary Skills During Spring Break

Andrea Perdomo
Pine Manor Community Center culinary instructor Ashley Okerstrom (left) helps a 17-year-old student flatten dough that will be used to make pasta.

Spring break may be a time of leisure for most school-aged kids, but some local teens are using the time off from school to learn culinary skills.

Since 2013, the Pine Manor Community Center has held a teen culinary program during spring break and over summer vacation.

The program is overseen by Ashley Okerstom, a line cook who graduated from the center’s adult culinary program four years ago.

"I try to keep it a little more fun for the teens," Okerstom said. "But, they do learn the same skills that the adults would learn."

Participating teens learn knife skills, culinary terminology, sanitary practices and lots of recipes.

The teenagers also get a Safe Staff Certification, which is a requirement for people who work in food-related industries.

"Say they wanted to go to McDonald’s, Burger King, maybe even Publix [to] work in the deli. If they have this certification, that’s going to give them a step in the door, because the company doesn’t have to pay for it," Okerstom said. 

Pine Manor offers a similar culinary program for teens over the course of three weeks during the summer.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.