Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson has a new project he's working on: changing the way students learn about food and life. He is launching a charity that will overhaul home economics class in schools, starting in Georgia and with the goal of eventually going nationwide.
On Friday, Hugh will address his plan in a speech he's giving at the 18th Annual Georgia Organics Conference.
"We're sort of redoing the whole curriculum to give kids the life skills so that in their 20s, they actually know how to poach an egg, or make some jam, or make a chutney, or make some pickles, just bare-bones cooking necessities that people seem to have forgotten how to do," Acheson told Flagpole.
The conference's theme this year is "Recipe for change: better farms, better flavors" and that seems in line with what Hugh hopes to do in schools.
"I think the edible gardens have seen a maturation in idea to where it used to be kind of about kindergartners planting a seed, and watching it grow, and ooh la la, and you're done, and then the stuff just never really gets harvested and never gets used," he added. "And now it's being used."
While he admits his role as a father led him to overhaul home ec classes, there was another key motivator: research indicating students from low-income areas aren't taught proper life skills in school.
"It's like, well, what if we taught them how to be that much healthier and that much smarter about how they spend their money, and taught them the value of a No. 1 combo at a fast food joint?" Hugh said. "That money that you think is a really good deal can feed three people if you really think about it properly and have some basic cooking skills. It's like getting badges in Boy Scouts, somewhere along the line, you need to know how to make a fire, and somewhere along the line, you should know how to scramble eggs without screwing it up."
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