cover – In The Club

cover – In The Club

cover

IN THE CLUB

Meet chefs who guide the next generation of cooking experts.

WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
PHOTOS BY ANGELA MANN

 

Each Monday at 4 p.m., Storey County Justice of the Peace Eileen Herrington trades in her black robe and gavel for an apron and a spoon. Then, with her husband, John, she spends two hours teaching a group of fifth-grade girls and boys about the joys of cooking and eating well.

The Herringtons started the 4-H Food Lovers Club four years ago as a solution to their empty-nest syndrome. The couple, with a combined family of six children, found they really missed having young people around after theirs were all grown.

“We always loved to cook with our kids,” Eileen says, “so we thought, why not create a cooking club?”

So they did. To their surprise, it turned out to be immensely popular.

The ideal package

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by meetings entitled Pondering the Pasta or The Nebulous Noodle or Lettuce Look at the Iceberg? And the Herringtons’ approach to this subject matter is as creative as those titles. For them, the Food Lovers Club definitely was not just about cooking.

“Eating is about more than just shoving food in our mouths,” Eileen says. “It’s about the whole experience: etiquette, hosting, being a good guest, the art of conversation, how to set a table, the purpose and history of each utensil, the history of different foods. We touch on it all, as well as cooking and cleanup.”

If you think teaching fifth-graders these skills sounds dull, you don’t know the Herringtons. For example, when club members cooked an Asian noodle dish, they also learned about chopsticks — not only their history, but also how to use them. And after some serious practice, they put their skills to the test by presenting chopstick relay races!

A winning team

Sandy Wallin of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension sings the couple’s praises. According to Wallin, Eileen was named the 4-H Leader of the Year for Nevada in 2013, and John and Eileen were named the 4-H Leaders of the Year for Storey County the following year.

The Herringtons downplay the accolades. They are not professional cooks or teachers, they say; they are just two people who want to make a difference in young lives. They hope that teaching the youths how to cook, how to appreciate food, and how to be comfortable in social situations will open up a new world of possibilities for these children.

“It’s a lot of contained craziness,” Eileen says about their 4-H club. “But we always have fun!”

And, for now, that’s all the reward the Herringtons need.

Barbara Twitchell, a Reno-based freelance writer, notes that her interview with the Herringtons took place in the judge’s chambers. It was the most fun she’s ever had in court!

Resources

For details about the Virginia City 4-H Cooking Club, contact Sandy Wallin — 4-H and Youth Programs, UNR Cooperative Extension, Carson City/Storey County — 775-887-2252

Interested in starting a 4-H cooking club in your area or becoming a 4-H volunteer for another activity? Contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Office at 775-784-7070 or visit http://www.unce.unr.edu/4H/volunteers/involved

 

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