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Culinary Students are Baking for a Cause

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Karen Jenkins
Just a few of the confections the students worked hard to make

Karen Jenkins
Culinary students Carolina Mooney and Barry Rickman showing off their creations.

Karen Jenkins
Just a few of the confections the students worked hard to make

11 pounds of butter, about five pounds of sugar, and 35 eggs. These are just some of the things that could be found in the Edmonds Community College kitchen during the first week of December 2018. During the first week of Dec. 2018, students and faculty of the Culinary Department were hard at work accomplishing the herculean task of baking 40 dozen cookies for the Seattle Milk Fund’s CookieFest. The department was hard at work crafting the assortment of confections, ranging in selection from chocolate-dipped macaroons and spritz cookies, to holiday-themed sugar cookies and pinwheels. But who are the talented and motivated people behind the cookies, and how did they accomplish this task?

“If you’re making a small batch of cookies, you can make a bigger batch just as easily by just scaling your ingredients out,” said Chef Karen Jenkins, one of the two chefs in charge of coordinating with the Seattle Milk Fund. While that might have made the task sound easy, it certainly is not when you are making so many different and complex recipes at one time. “We have of course pinwheel cookies that you have a vanilla and chocolate dough that you sandwich together, you sheet them out really thin and when they’re cold you slice them, or we also had sugar cookies that were sheeted out and you roll out the dough, do cutouts and decorate those with icing so those took the most work.”

Chef Karen has been involved with the culinary arts since her late 20’s, graduating from South Seattle Community College with a focus on pastry arts in 1999. She has all the know-how and technical experience to tackle such an undertaking, but it’s not just about the strategy for managing the portions and ingredients, it’s also about the comradery involved.

Denise McDonald, a student of the EdCC Baking and Pastry Arts Program who worked with Chef Karen on CookieFest 2018, stresses this factor the most. “Ya know, if I had to do it at home that would’ve been hard…” she said, “It’s hard, but when you’re doing it with other people it’s not.” The intrepid Mrs. McDonald first dove into the world of the culinary arts when she chose to bake her own wedding cake 40 years ago. She has had a persevering love of the craft since then, and at one time owned her very own bakery.

The Culinary Department seems to be brimming with those who hold a passion for the pastry arts, such as Conor Kamps, another student who aided Chef Karen during CookieFest and who had originally gone to EdCC for a degree in computer science. “I was having to work at a pizza place, and I was like ‘man, I could be making a lot more money for making food’ which I really enjoyed and loved,” said Kamps. “I think the main reason I’m really enjoying this program is we’re not just making recipes that we’re tossing out. All of this stuff that we’re making is stuff people get to eat and people get to try and it’s a lot better of a feeling.”

This was the first time the Culinary Department at EdCC was called upon to contribute to CookieFest, and Chef Karen hopes it won’t be the last. “Hopefully they ask us back next year because, it was ton of fun” she said, adding that the event was a great experience for students of the culinary arts. The event gave students an obstacle that only teamwork and preparation could surmount, and supplied them with invaluable skills they can carry forward.

With such a staggering number of cookies being produced, it makes one wonder who or what all this work was for.

The Seattle Milk Fund is a non-profit charity that has been operating alongside King, Pierce and Snohomish county colleges and universities since its inception in 1907, making it one of the oldest and longest-lasting charities in the state of Washington. Money raised from events like CookieFest 2018 go toward child care grants and support to low-income students, with some parents receiving up to $2,000 each quarter per child.

The charity is one of the best in the state for those who need a leg up as they tackle the rigors of both parenthood and college in tandem, and their website states that “In 2016, Seattle Milk Fund presented 280 child care and family support grants, with a total of $256,777 awarded to grantees. Since changing its focus in 1965 to provide higher education and family support grants, and in 1990 to include child care grants, Seattle Milk Fund has awarded more than $17M to local families.”

With 480 cookies being sold for $2 per cookies, or $20 per dozen, the program supplied CookieFest with approximately $960 worth of sugary delights. Even more of a delight, undoubtedly, is the fact that this money will go to the needs of a lucky parent and their child. In the words of Mrs. Denise McDonald, “we get to donate to that and there’s nothing that makes you feel better than doing that… I mean, for one thing it’s really fun!”

Ultimately, when CookieFest 2019 rolls around we can all rest assured that the talented members of the Baking and Pastry Arts Program will be ready and eager to delve back into the heat of their kitchen and whip up some goodies for the cause, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles for them.

Karen Jenkins
Just a few of the confections the students worked hard to make

Karen Jenkins
Culinary students Carolina Mooney and Barry Rickman working hard to complete their cookies.

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Culinary Students are Baking for a Cause