Bowie chef partners with PBS El Paso to create kids cooking show
(BOWIE HIGH SCHOOL -- July 29, 2020) — Bowie chef and teacher Christopher Puga wants to get more children in the kitchen to learn fun ways to engage with their families, and he’s partnered with PBS El Paso to cook up “Kids in the Cocina.”
“Kids in the Cocina” is a Facebook Live cooking show for children that shows children under the supervision of their parents how to follow a recipe and make a delicious snack or meal for the entire family. This Saturday, made-from-scratch pizza is on the menu.
“We are trying to encourage young children and families to cook, bond and learn at the same time,” said Puga, Bowie’s culinary arts instructor. “We tried to choose a recipe that could combine a lesson using multiplication, addition, subtraction and, of course, the mathematical number pi. We will be incorporating plenty of these problems while we do the cooking to encourage silent learning paid with a lot of fun and a tasty treat.”
The show is geared toward children in grades third through eighth, although anyone is free to follow along. The segment, which will hopefully become a monthly feature begins at 10:30 a.m. and will run for 30-45 minutes on the PBS El Paso Facebook page.
“Our goal is to make a series of ‘Kids in the Cocina’ where we are able to incorporate healthy meals, exercise and fun learning activities that families can do together,” he said.
The chef, who runs Bowie’s famous Oso Good food truck with his students, knows a little inspiration and starting young are key to sparking interest in culinary arts.
“I wanted to become a chef since I was in the third grade,” he admits. “I would always stare at the Food Network Channel wishing of getting an opportunity to be a chef one day.”
His elementary school principal saw the passion for culinary arts in his young eyes and encouraged him to go to vocational culinary high school even before he was a freshman.
“It was a passion of mine to be able to express myself through food,” Puga said. “I never imagined myself becoming a teacher but it’s definitely a path I do not regret. Getting to work with kids and showing them how their life can change for the better just with food is an amazing opportunity for me. It’s why I’m here.”
During the quarantine, Puga launched a Facebook group called “Culinary Camp Puga” aimed at getting younger children to learn to make simple meals. The camp took off after Puga posted a cooking video he made as a lesson for his high school students. A parent saw the video and asked him to do similar videos and it caught on – ultimately leading to “Kids in the Cocina” and 150 participants.
Erica Salas of PBS El Paso was among those who had seen “Culinary Camp Puga” on Facebook and had been looking for a project to do with its El Paso Family Circle members, which were typically live in-person events.
“PBS El Paso offers him a larger platform and a more targeted audience all while allowing the rest of the community to participate in and enjoy,” Salas said. “Family Circle members will receive a cooking hat and apron and be given access to the same recording via Zoom to have a closer, more personal experience with Chef Puga.”
Puga will tape the segment in an actual kitchen and not a studio to make kids feel more comfortable in their own kitchens. He hopes the show inspires more kids to cook at home – especially during the pandemic.
“This will teach them to begin cooking for themselves and learn to eat healthy,” Puga said. “During this pandemic, there has been a lot more sitting on the couch and eating and less playing at the playground and going for a walk. This will give a small opportunity for students to learn what goes into their body and how they can alter certain ingredients to make it as nutrition as possible.”
He plans to include offer healthier menu options with some simple exercise to encourage a balanced lifestyle while staying safe at home during the pandemic.
To start cooking with “Kids in the Cocina” log on at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 1 @PBSElPaso on Facebook.
Make sure to have the following ingredients:
1 pkg (6.5oz) of Betty Crocker Pizza Crust Mix
1 (14oz) Ragu Tomato Sauce
1 pkg (8oz) of low-moisture mozzarella cheese
1 pkg (3.5oz) thin slice pepperonis
1 ½ tsp of pepper
1 ½ tsp of salt
1 ½ tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/3 cup of oil of choice
12-inch pizza pan