Kids in this cooking class are learning way more than how to make macaroni and cheese. Today’s lesson is seaweed soup, California rolls and a version of kimchee called Cole Slaw With A Kick.

That seems like a lot for a group of 5- to 10-year-olds, but these budding chefs dive right in. Along the way, they learn how to chop, mix and measure for a recipe. Their instructor is Jennifer Hughes, who teaches this homeschool culinary class to youngsters at the North Pole Grange. Sometimes younger siblings tag along and they also get put to work learning how to cook.

It is a 16-week class that meets once a week under the umbrella of her company, Fernwood Food Safety. A mother of young children herself, she is adept at turning potential chaos into hands-on learning. She gives each student a job to do — from laying out the colorful place settings for each student to making sure everyone has the cooking supplies and ingredients they need.

For seaweed soup, each student gets a handful of dried seaweed to soak in water. Of course, every one of them nibbles on a raw piece. One by one, they each get to drop some rice into the rice cooker. Chopping with plastic knives is challenging for the youngest kids, but they do the best job they can.

Surprisingly, everyone completes three recipes during the two-hour class and the tasting begins. Seaweed Soup is a big hit and most of the kids return for more than one helping.

Kimball, 6, tells everyone that his grandmother is Chinese and she is a very good cook.

“But you wouldn’t understand her,” he said.

“That’s OK,” replied Hughes. “If you speak with food, everyone knows what you are saying.”

Class isn’t over until cleanup is compete. The young students take turns clearing the tables, scraping food off the dishes, washing the dishes and drying the dishes and then putting them away.

At age 10, Katherine Borgardts is the oldest student in the class. She attends week after week, she said, to improve her culinary skills.

“I’m the reader and the cooker in my family,” she said.

The coming weeks will offer classes in how to roll and bake a pie crust, how to use a blender, and show the difference between hot, done and overcooked. Students will make pancakes with fruit, homemade tortillas, noodles with pesto, vegetable quiche and more.

These youngsters are off to a great culinary start.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/FDNMKris.

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