Maria pre-planned with each family to obtain the necessary ingredients in time for the Friday morning start that brought us toward making lemon meringue pie with homemade pastry crust!     

The class assembled in CELC’s regular Zoom meeting room, each from his or her own kitchen! Unexpected elements of this first-time experience were certainly discovered. 

Maria became a sports commentator / orchestra conductor, giving play-by-play instructions and maintaining order from her vantage point, host of the Zoom room!  She demonstrated technique and continuously broadcast instruction and cooking guidance to the eight separate pie-making locations!

From separating eggs the “right way” so as not to have any yolk interfere with the egg whites, to rolling out the correct consistency of dough for a flaky pastry crust, her piloting of all the parts was in and of itself both brilliant and remarkable to behold!

The other unanticipated aspect was how families in each home came together in their respective kitchens to take part in the activity.  It provided family bonding time and a chance to be immersed in an all-consuming task.  Time was somehow suspended. Instead of the now-too-common stress and worry of these times, focus was concentrated instead on the intricate aspects involved in the creation of sweet yummy pie to be shared!

The Why Cook? class is designed to allow students to be exposed to a wide range of recipes, experience a variety of cooking techniques, and open up to the possibilities of the culinary arts. Parents often report CELC students are much more involved with meal preparation at home.  We even once had a student request a crème brulée torch for his thirteenth birthday!

Recipe plan for next month’s class : potato leek soup with homemade chicken and/or vegetable stock, suiting the personal preferences of the students!

~ Click on any image below for a scrollable gallery

Below are some student impressions and creative writing, one even written from the perspective of the ingredients themselves! 

Why Cook? Journaling  

by second-year CELC student E.R.

At the beginning, I was, to be honest, a bit unsure of how this class cooking class would unfold.  Eight different remote locations providing eight remotely different outcomes but knowing Maria, I was sure that she somehow would find a way.

 The class began in utter chaos. Most everyone, not one muted, speaking at once, seldom anyone heard, all eager to dive into the invigorating process. Yet, a barrage of questions impeded the way, and with everyone recklessly hacking it once, we got practically nowhere. A system was soon implemented to control the quickly wooshing flow: one at a time, raise your hand to speak, all controlled by a single helpful figure, without whom the flow would almost surely have broken.

From there, divergence began. Some were done zesting the citrus, some still separating eggs. All attempts to stay together were futile, forcing our incredibly perseverant instructor to track each quickly branching path.  Some were half done with the crust, while some still were squeezing lemons, some speeding ahead, others demanding assistance. All and all, it was a miracle Maria was able to keep track of us – I suppose “mismash miracle magic” really does happen occasionally!

In the end, though some took longer than others, eight pristine pies, nine if you include the one Maria had been making all the while though not done, were completed – a great wonder to behold.


Another entry from student E.R.  Can you tell from which perspective the following is written?

Why Cook? The answer appears simple – to provide sustenance in the form of an edible delicacy. But that response really only scrapes the surface! Beneath that simple answer there lies an intricate network of reasons, most of which can only be truly revealed by participating in the immersive art itself. Though, some may peak above the surface as you read the account below.

My sweeping tendrils reach into each and every facet of lives around the world. I feed on the weak, attacking those most vulnerable and using them to facilitate my reach of unlimited power. I am unstoppable – I can manipulate the entire outreach of humanity. None can defy me.

It is early. Typical morning activity commencing, the family shuffling across my floor. Back and forth one goes, cabinet to cabinet, counter to shelf. Much more than usual for this hour.

Recently, I have been enjoying an enormous influx of usage. After spending the entire day shoved under a grimy wicker bench, I am thoroughly enthused by my position as centerpiece of daily life. I was beginning to get a bit bored with my constant position as desktop centerpiece, all those unwieldy wires dangling about, but today, I got to take a trip to the kitchen.

Finally, after an eternity locked behind heavy wooden doors and hidden on recessed shelves, we were granted a taste of freedom from our dark and lonely lairs.  We were unexpectedly released, brought forth to rest in neat rows on a pristine countertop – we lie in wait…

Finally … Daylight at last … A hand grabs me, and, whoosh, I’m going for a ride … The countertop is fast approaching – I’m in for a crash landing – brace myself – 3-2-1, crack! My brittle shell splits near in two, my delicate insides oozing onto the hand below. My fate, alas, is fast approaching – my clear white insides slowly dribble away, my brilliant core plummets towards the darkly engulfing insides of a deep, dark cavern … Splat!

A hand stretches toward my pristine resting place. Pick me! Please … I’m rarely ever chosen – I feel so deprived, so lonesome, so abandoned! The hand nears, it seems to be directed straight towards my handle … Yes! I am gently lifted between fumbling fingers, prepared to carry out my task with utmost diligence. A brilliantly shining orb is brought before my head, and I gladly allow it to scrape through my waiting teeth. The topmost yellow skin slowly grinds away, excluded out as a crumbly pile of shining sun-flakes. Then, there come a few orange spheres, which I zealously zest without hesitation. Suddenly as it began, my task is done. Just one more? No. On to the sink, a wash, a long, long wait.

A soaring shadow looms above my surface, a great ship obscuring the light, plunging me into half-shaded shadow. Drip-drip-drop, gurgle-gargle-plop. Drops of deliciously dribbling citrus jizzle down from the sky above, pleasantly pooling in my bottom as I slowly fill.           

I notice the various bags of ingredients being lifted from various points across my surface, being meticulously measured into a great bowl, some, spilling, sprinkles across my quickly dirtying surface. Fortunately, an occasional dishcloth comes to relieve me of this mess but always to be replaced by more as the ceaseless cooking continues.


We invite prospective students and parents to please visit our online classroom! While admissions season is challenged, we encourage interested families to be in contact. Openings are available and applications are being accepted for 2020-21.Contact [email protected] or 203.433.4658 to schedule a “visit” and for more information.