Female student making sushi in home kitchen

When Claire Hartemink ’21 was at home participating in Virtual Hill during the 2020 spring term, she - like many others - found herself spending more time eating meals at home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Since she couldn’t enjoy her favorite meals at local restaurants, she decided to take the skills she already had from cooking with her parents and build upon them so she could make those foods at home. She soon discovered her friends had a similar interest, and they started sharing cooking videos on and Snapchat.

This experience is what inspired Claire’s idea to pursue a study of cooking during H-Term. She initially was going to take on an independent study, but when she learned Mrs. Donna Eilberg, assistant dean of students, wanted to offer a cooking course, the two joined together to cook up the Recipes for Life course.

“With Mrs. Eilberg’s expertise and vision, it transformed into a virtual cooking class open to all fifth and sixth form students,” explains Claire.

Eilberg loves to cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen learning new recipes with her four children. She is drawing on her personal experiences as well as the guidance of the many cookbook authors and “foodies” she follows on social media to help guide this course. 

“Cooking is a valuable life skill as well as a great way to bring people together,” notes Eilberg. “I am trying to share things I am making for my own family during the week, and support whatever the students want to make.”

The course, which is designed to teach students about basic cooking techniques, as well as incorporate healthy cooking habits and ideas about how to cook on a budget (for the upcoming college years), is led by Eilberg, with other faculty members making guest appearances for some of the live cooking classes held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Class discussions about what students learned while cooking the week’s recipes are held on Monday mornings.

“My favorite part of the class has been learning with and from others,” remarks Claire. “It’s awesome learning cooking tips and tricks from my classmates, and it has been a lot of fun holding cooking rivalries with two of my friends who are taking the class.” 

Some of the meals the students have prepared include shrimp tempura, sushi, fried rice, Birria tacos, omelets, pancakes, jambalaya, quiche, meatballs, pasta with homemade sauce, and crepes.

“So far, my favorite dish was the Birria tacos,” notes Claire. “They took 14 hours to marinate and braise, but it was well worth it. The result was amazing. I made that and the Jambalaya for my family. While my mom and dad loved it, my nine-year-old brother is tough to please!”

When H-Term comes to an end on February 12, Eilberg hopes her students “come away having spent some time in the kitchen gaining a little confidence and trying new recipes they might not try on their own.

“I want them to know food doesn’t have to be a complicated fancy dish to be delicious,” states Eilberg.

Follow along with Claire, Mrs. Eilberg, and the rest of the class on Instagram @Cooking4Quaranteens.