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Culinary creativity: Chef Bojji hosts annual cooking class for children

“There’s nothing that you can’t make. It’s all about being creative,” the chef Youness Bojji said.

Chez Bojji Kids Cooking Class
Brynn Linder, 9, is show how to properly hold and use a kitchen knife by Youness Bojji during a cooking class in Chez Bojji on Sunday, June 26, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — They talked about the vivid colors of the vegetables. About the smell of the basil. And, of course, they tasted all the ingredients blending together in the perfect ways.

In the end, it was enough to make the group of young cooks bust with excitement on an otherwise lazy summer morning.

Local chef Youness Bojji opened his door Sunday for a small class of 15 children at the downtown restaurant Chez Bojji. From pizza to pasta to a dessert of fruit-covered cake, the group learned a little about the artistry behind the food they eat.

“Cooking is super easy and it’s super fun,” Bojji told the students. “There’s nothing that you can’t make. It’s all about being creative.”

Bojji said he hosts a cooking class about once a year, giving the students a relatively rare opportunity to learn from one of Rochester’s chefs.

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With soft jazz playing in the background and the Broadway traffic zooming by the windows, Bojji helped his students explore the culinary world.

And they ate it up, so to speak.

“That cucumber idea was really good,” one student shouted out from their chair.

“Oh, that smells so good,” another exclaimed.

And over the course of the class, Bojji explained everything from the creativity of cooking to the safety of working with the tools of the kitchen.

Chez Bojji Kids Cooking Class
Brynn Linder, 9, is show how to properly hold and use a kitchen knife by Youness Bojji during a cooking class at Chez Bojji on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Rochester.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

You sprinkle the salt from up high to help disperse it around the food, rather than clumping it in one area, he said.

Think of the cutting knife like a bike, Bojji told the students. You're in charge.

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Ten-year-old Maddy Schweitzer said her favorite part of the class was the pizza.

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"It was really different — like, you wouldn't expect it to taste like that," she said.

For Bojji's part, he said he hosts the class to pass the love of cooking along to the next generation and to see the "joy in their eyes."

"You're showing the kids what somebody showed you," he said. "You're passing the knowledge to the next person."

Chez Bojji Kids Cooking Class
Chez Bojji chef Youness Bojji hosts a kids cooking class in his restaurant on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Rochester.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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