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University Advancement

Media Contact: Keion Moradi or
Carmen Ramos Chandler
(818) 677-2130
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Public Relations and Strategic Communications


Culinary Kids Cook Up Something Special at CSUN

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., July 25, 2007) — ó Watch out, Wolfgang Puck—America’s next celebrity chef is warming up his culinary chops at Cal State Northridge. The Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics concludes its Summer Cooking Class for Children Program with a graduation banquet, when the new junior chefs will present their edible creations to parents and the community on Friday, Aug. 3, at 10:45 a.m. in Sequoia Hall, Room 112.

Acclaimed chef Cecilia de Castro has been working with graduate students Arlyn Sabado and Rania Dabboussi since July 2, mentoring the 9 to 11 year-olds on the basics of food science, nutrition, food safety, cooking tips and tricks for making gourmet snacks and meals.

"This class is a great way to bridge the need for culinary arts and nutrition knowledge," said de Castro, who has been teaching culinary classes for over 27 years. "The combination of the two makes one fabulous discipline."

In preparation for the banquet, the children will whip up their favorite recipes on Thursday, Aug. 2, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

The project was part of a collaborative effort of the center, which is housed in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Department of Elementary Education’s Summer Academic Program for Elementary School Students and funded by an interdisciplinary grant from the Center for Innovative and Engaged Learning Opportunities. Whole Foods donated the supplies for the program.

Annette Besnilian, associate director of the center, said the basic idea for the youth cooking class was to teach kids how to make healthy snacks and promote healthy eating. It also signifies an overarching effort of the center’s commitment to develop partnerships with the community for promoting healthy eating habits, she added.

"With childhood obesity on the rise, one of our major concerns is to increase awareness," she said.

Besnilian said she believes the program will have a ripple effect. "Children are our future. If we teach them to eat and cook healthy now, they can eat healthy for a lifetime and make a difference in our community."

Besnilian added that the program benefits CSUN students. "They are getting a great hands-on opportunity to work with renowned chefs like de Castro."

During the banquet, students will receive a certificate for completing the class and a chef’s hat.

For more information, contact Besnilian at the center at (818) 677-3102 or visit the Web site:

(Editorís note: Media are welcome to attend both the banquet on Friday and the cooking event on Thursday)

California State University, Northridge at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330 / Phone: 818-677-1200 / © 2006 CSU Northridge