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Cooking Club inspires foodies and flavors

Published Oct. 3, 2023


Carmel High School’s Cooking Club piqued the interest and taste buds of many students when it was started last spring and has continued to bond club members through sharing diverse foods and interacting with the vast food community.

The club was created by senior Riko Nakamura, and since it was Nakamura’s first year at CHS, she wanted to meet new people and get involved.

From the effort and care of making food to sharing the food and feeling the gratitude of others, the culinary arts have a way of bringing people together. Born in Japan, Nakamura wanted to share this part of herself with other club members. 

“Last year we made Japanese rice balls… also called onigiri,” says Nakamura, referring to the triangle-shaped mound of rice wrapped with a strip of nori, usually with a filling such as salted salmon and umeboshi, Japanese pickled plum. “We brought tuna and made tuna mayo rice balls because that’s what my mom used to make me.”

Since Cooking Club meets in a classroom with only a microwave, Nakamura is creative with the recipes the club uses. Sometimes members bring in what they cook at home to share, and other times they bring in ingredients to use in an assembly line style. When the club made cookie dough, members brought in an assortment of chocolates, marshmallows and other add-ins as well as basic ingredients like flour, sugar and butter. They used the microwave to heat treat the flour.

Cooking Club members excitedly exchange their homemade bento boxes with one another. (photo by LAUREN GALICIA)

The positive environment is another attraction of the club as Nakamura hopes to further bond with her club members this year by implementing more projects and field trips.  

“I really enjoy the energy,” says vice president Magnolia Woodruff Lyons. “Everyone is passionate about cooking and food.”

Nakamura wishes to collaborate and support local food organizations, such as MEarth, cafes and restaurants. In her former school, the New Roads School in Santa Monica, the enthusiastic senior also started Mixed Media Misfits, an online site in which the club showcased their artwork. To Nakamura, cooking and food is a kind of art and expression. 

Club adviser Dale DePalatis has a similar view.

“Most of my cooking is just my own creative way,” explains DePalatis. “I just take things that I like the flavors of and mix them together.”

The English teacher has his own share of culinary skill as the star of his hit YouTube channel, “The Mr. DePal Cooking Show.” DePalatis has many cultural influences from living abroad in Japan, China, Italy and other European countries.

All students at Carmel High School are welcome to join in the food and fun of Cooking Club every Friday in Room 27. 

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