Califonia Bountiful

Young chefs create culinary delights

Sept./Oct. 2009 California Country magazine

Teenagers come into focus with Jr. Chef Central and cooking camps.

Chef Stu Edgecombe, back row center, and Jr. Chef Central Operations Manager Amanda Arnold, front row center, inspire and instruct the chefs-in-training.

Watching television, going to the movies, shopping at the mall, texting, hanging with friends... just a few teenage pastimes. Let's add cooking to the list. What? A teenager who enjoys an outing to the farmers market or grocery store so that they can make a meal? Show me!

We caught up with Chef Stu Edgecombe from Sacramento's Esquire Grille as he was helping some very special teenagers prepare the incredible recipes for this issue of California Country. Take it from me—I tasted every creation.

Chef Stu—as he is called—is one of many chefs who work with kids of all ages attending Jr. Chef Central and their Jr. Chef Cooking Camps. Chef Stu met Jr. Chef Central founder Karla Lacey at a benefit and thus began his adventure in working with some pretty talented young chefs.

Chef Stu got the cooking bug early as he was learning how to cook in an eighth-grade home economics class. He started his restaurant career as a dishwasher, moved his way up the food chain and hopes to become a full-time culinary instructor sometime in the future.

He loves California and the bounty of farm-fresh ingredients he has access to every day—and his love for food and how to make a great meal is being shared with some bright new chefs we are sure to see making their own headlines in the culinary world.

Rosanna Westmoreland is the editorial director for California Country. She can be reached at 800-698-FARM or


By Chef Alyssa Bulfer, age 14
Chef Alyssa started cooking at an early age, and although she did not originally want to go through the Jr. Chef program, she is glad she did. She loves cooking cultural foods such as African and Asian recipes. Her favorite comfort food is hummus.

Basil and tomato bread soup

Corn Pudding

By Chef Kevin Vargas, age 15
Chef Kevin started cooking at the ripe young age of 9, coming home after school and wanting to eat hearty and healthy meals. He loves making desserts. His favorite is double lemon bars, one of the first recipes students tackle in the Jr. Chef program.

Corn pudding with poblano chilies and Monterey Jack cheese



By Chef Allison Barcelon, age 13
Chef Allison's mom was her first cooking teacher and the teen now has four years of kitchen time under her hat. She loves cooking Chinese dishes, but her favorite personal food is risotto.

Zucchini frittatas with Pecorino cheese and chives



By Chef Michael Eng-Dacanay, age 14
Chef Michael's inspiration for working in a kitchen came from his grandpa, who owned a Cantonese restaurant where Michael loved to help out. Michael has aspirations to be a professional chef and has already completed the Jr. Chef Master's Program. His favorite food is sushi.

Fruit cobbler


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