HomeMoorestown NewsBringing culinary arts to her community

Bringing culinary arts to her community

The Moorestown Recreation Community Kitchen has been abuzz with activity the past few years, thanks in large part to the efforts of its resident chef Katie Sklarow.

Resident chef at the Moorestown Recreation Community Kitchen Katie Sklarow stands with a tray of homemade dog biscuits baked during one of her Bow Wow Bakery classes.

The Moorestown Recreation Community Kitchen is a shared-use, fully licensed, commercial kitchen facility out of which 160 classes are run each year for both children and adults. However it wasn’t always such an active branch of the recreation building.

It took a 20-year fundraising effort by community volunteers and benefactors before the kitchen, which hadn’t seen rehabilitation since 1926, was made fully operational in 2015.

- Advertisement -

Of course, a fully operational kitchen is only as good as the person running it. That’s where the kitchen’s current resident chef and instructor, Katie Sklarow, came in.

Initially Sklarow was contacted by Moorestown recreation department staffer Cyndi Britton who wanted to bring her in as a volunteer for consulting purposes. Her degree in culinary management made her a good resource when it came to preparing the kitchen to pass health inspections.

“We really couldn’t do anything in the kitchen because it wasn’t county-approved,” said Britton.

When she reached out to her, Sklarow was in the process of completing a culinary arts degree from the Art Institute of Philadelphia while simultaneously working for a handful of families in Moorestown cooking prepared meals out of their kitchens. She had already started making a name for herself in town for her culinary expertise, and Britton thought she was just what the community kitchen needed.

“We got a big grant from the township and I did a lot of the purchasing and reports for the additional equipment we needed,” said Sklarow.

As the kitchen came together, the two began to envision the possibilities of a fully functioning community kitchen.

“We didn’t really know exactly what the view for the kitchen was going to be, we just knew we wanted to teach classes,” said Sklarow. “At the time, I didn’t know that I wanted to teach, my intention was to potentially start doing meals from this kitchen but that turned into me teaching.”

The first class she taught was an introduction to baking class in November 2015. As a part-time farmer, Sklarow was also interested in introducing children to healthy cooking with fresh ingredients.

“I’m very into local, sustainable ingredients, and I wanted kids to see that and understand where their food was coming from,” said Sklarow.

She recalls showing a full head of broccoli to a group of children she was cooking for and being surprised none of them could identify what it was before it was cut into individual florets.

Sklarow began to feel a drive to open up a new world for young people.

“It became really important to me. Back then, I was interested in teaching, I just didn’t know it yet. I cared about what these kids thought about their food,” said Sklarow.

“It’s been really interesting watching the kids enjoy healthy eating and vegetables,” said Britton.

Over time, Sklarow and Britton kept expanding the kitchen’s offerings to the public. This past year, Sklarow taught 160 different classes for children and adults, covering a wide variety of topics.

According to Sklarow, class topics are constantly being added or amended based on demand. They keep a “whatever sticks” kind of attitude, and don’t sweat it when a class doesn’t garner much interest.

“We can throw anything at the wall and if it doesn’t run or only has a couple sign-ups, then it’s not a big deal,” said Sklarow.

Her efforts teaching in the kitchen recently caught the attention of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association, which presented her with an award for excellence in educational and interpretive programming in February.

This summer, Sklarow is preparing for a series of one-week summer camp programs at the recreation center aimed at children grades two through eight ranging in topics from American Cuisine to Classic European Desserts. Parents can sign their children up on a week to week basis at moorestownrec.com.



Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue