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Thanks to Our {Amazing} 2018 Trip Sponsors!

It is only through the generosity of big-hearted corporations that our trips have continued to be fully funded for over a decade. All of our generous sponsors are rock stars in our book, and we are incredibly thankful for each and every one of them! This year, we are excited to welcome two new sponsors into the family.

First, we’d like to give a shout-out to EnProVera for joining our Private Table tier of donors. Their support funded our entire equipment budget which ranged from carrot costumes to cavatelli boards. A service disabled veteran-owned business working to make our country a safer place, their generosity brought big smiles to our outdoor cooking classroom.

Next, we’d like to thank Stonewall Kitchens for pulling up a chair at our Communal Table. They generously gifted BBQ sauces for our chefs to take home as well as a gift basket that went to one lucky Camp Sunshine family during the Family Foodie Olympics.

Finally, a big thank you to our steadfast benefactors, William and Anne Carroll, for contributing our largest single donation this year. It’s their ongoing generosity that keeps us doing what we do best. Big love to them both.

We’re so close. And we need YOUR help!


Hello CulinaryCorps Friends and Supporters,

Summer is in full swing! And we are beyond excited to be embarking on our fourth trip to Camp Sunshine this August. A retreat for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families, we will be adding our hands-on cooking classes to their regularly scheduled oncology session programming. With just a few days left until we gather our team in Portland, Maine, we’ve been diligently checking off our to-do list:

  • Have we assembled an incredible team of chef-volunteers chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants? You bet!
  • Did we design an informative, engaging, and fun cooking curriculum that will take the campers and their families on a culinary journey around the globe from Turkey to Mexico and Italy to Japan? Sure did!
  • Have we chosen the Top Chef Sunshine secret ingredient? Yup. But our lips are sealed 🙂
  • Did we raise enough money to buy ingredients, equipment and a camp skit carrot costume? Unfortunately, no 🙁

Will you help us cross our fundraising finish line by making a donation today?

We try not to bombard our donor base with donation requests throughout the year, just when we need it most. And we really do need it now! Currently, our 2018 Crowdrise Team Fundraiser is only 85% funded with only one week left to reach our $10,000 target. Your donation (big, small or anywhere in-between) will help us feed and house our chef-volunteers; buy necessary ingredients and equipment; and allow campers to make homemade spinach cavatelli and hand-pressed corn tortillas for the griddle.

But most importantly, your contribution will put huge smiles on a lot of faces. And for children whose day-to-day consists of hospital visits and doctor’s orders, smiles are worth their weight in gold to these families.

Thank you for considering making a crucial donation to help support this trip. As always, it is 100% tax-deductible and because we are 100% volunteer-run, every dollar is put towards programming (and carrot costumes), not overhead.

Here’s to bringing our brand of culinary magic to the shores of Lake Sebago! And here’s to you for helping us get there.

Christine Carroll, Executive Director & The 2018 CulinaryCorps Leadership Team

ps: Speaking of smiles, the Amazon Smile program is such an easy way to contribute to our trips with a click of the button. Please consider making your Amazon purchases via this link, and thanks for shopping on behalf of CulinaryCorps!

Now Recruiting for our 2018 Outreach Trip to Camp Sunshine!

CulinaryCorps is excited to announce that we will be returning for a fourth time to Camp Sunshine for our 2018 outreach trip. A year-round facility on Maine’s Lake Sebago, Camp Sunshine has been supporting children with life-threatening illnesses and their families for over 30 years. We feel so lucky to have been a part of the magic that happens there each year; and we are honored to be invited to return.

The selected 10 person chef-volunteer team will once again launch our World of Flavors cooking program during the camp’s August 5th-10th oncology session. This  CulinaryCorps designed curriculum includes internationally-inspired hands-on cooking classes for all ages and delicious family-oriented activities throughout the week.

To gain an even better understanding of what this trip will entail, please read our trip summary of 2015’s amazing visit. We will be replicating the same itinerary this year with a few minor changes. And for those of you who are more visual, take a peek at all the incredible camp moments from 2014 here.

Doing good never tasted better. Apply today! Trip details and application below:


Location: Camp Sunshine, Casco, ME

Trip Dates: August 4th (arrive by 2pm in Portland) – August 10th, 2018 (depart by 3pm)

Trip Fee: $375 per person (Includes housing, meals and ground transport. Does not include transportation to/from Portland, ME)

Trip Fundraising Requirement: $600 per person

Managing Trip Leader: Aimee Bariteau

Co-Leadership: Jessica Botta, Thomas Medrow

For general trip FAQs, please click HERE


Application: Click HERE to fill out our online application*

Application Deadline: Friday, May 4th at 5pm EST 

(Selection Notification: On or Before May 10th, 2018)

*If accepted, Camp Sunshine requires a secondary application and background check.


  • 21 years of age
  • Minimum 1 year of professional culinary experience and/or culinary degree (Currently enrolled culinary students are also encouraged to apply)
  • References and background check
  • Personal health insurance
  • Fundraising commitment of $600 plus trip fee of $375


  • Hands-on experience in teaching others how to cook healthy meals.
  • Previous experience working with children of all ages.
  • Flexibility and adaptability both in the kitchen and outside of it.
  • Willingness to get goofy, get dancin’ and get into the camp spirit!


Camp Sunshine supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families.  The camp has the distinction of being the only program in the nation whose goal is to address the impact of a life threatening illness on every member of the immediate  family—the ill child, the parents, and the siblings.  Since its inception, Camp Sunshine has provided a haven for over 40,500 individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Our CulinaryCorps trip mission is to enhance the camp’s daily programming with cooking classes geared for campers of all ages including parents. Each class will be designed to teach culinary basics as well as healthful alternatives to unhealthy foods. And as always, we aim for every class to be a lot of fun! In addition, we will be hosting evening programming for families that will focus on fostering health and family-bonding through cooking. Finally, our lessons will be put to good use as each age group competes separately in their very own “Top Chef Sunshine” challenge.

It is our hope that cooking with these campers and their families will provide educational entertainment throughout the week, culinary knowledge to bring home to their own kitchens and a whole lot of long-lasting joy.


Throughout the week of service, our chef-volunteers will be tasked with the following:

  • Introduce the flavors and culinary concepts that will be covered in the curriculum on the day of camper arrival through our “Test Your Tastebuds” event.
  • Teach daily hands-on cooking classes for campers as well as the parents around a country’s culinary heritage incorporating not only food but music, books and history.
  • The five 45-minute sessions per day will encompass the nuts and bolts of cooking including knife skills, palate expansion, sautéing, grilling, dough making, and healthy shortcuts as well as highlighting a country of origin.
  • Each class will be slightly modified to fit the skill set of the age group (3-5, 6-8, 9-12, teens and adult) as well as adjust the lessons for allergies and/or disabilities.
  • Facilitate an afternoon of crazy fun with our “Foodie Family Olympics!”
  • Host a “Top Chef Sunshine” competition on the final day of camp where chefs and campers in each age group team up to create a stellar dish using a secret ingredient.
  • High-five, hug, laugh, dance, tell jokes, sing on stage, smile, giggle, act goofy, get silly…all in the name of CAMP!

For a more in-depth description of the daily responsibilities of the CulinaryCorps volunteers, please read our 2014 daily overview HERE.

2017 Cook It Forward Grantee Spotlight: Celia Lam

Exploring Farms and Food Waste in Japan

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary last year, we here at CulinaryCorps HQ decided to create a new and meaningful way for the organization to grow its mission via the Cook It Forward initiative. Cook It Forward is a micro-grant program open to CulinaryCorps alumni providing $555 in seed funding to help launch an outreach project of their own. This is our small way of giving back to the over 100 chef-volunteers who have given so much over the past decade to make our organization a delicious success.

Celia Lam, chef and food waste evangelist, is our second grant recipient for 2017. Working with a variety of project partners, Celia launched a highly ambitious culinary voluntourism trip to Chiba, Japan. Leveraging her network of local farmers, food artisans and culinary experts, Celia led a group of 10 participants into fields, farms, breweries and beyond to give them a first-hand glimpse into Japan’s organic farming practices. In addition, this trip explored the growing issue of food waste in Japan and emphasized the importance of zero waste cooking via hands-on cooking classes. Please read on for all the amazing details!

Project Title: From Field to Cup to Plate: Exploring Food Waste and Sustainable Agriculture in Chiba, Japan

Alumni Grantee: Celia Lam

A cook, teacher and advocate for sustainable food, Celia is also the co-Founder of Salvage Supperclub, a food waste initiative that began in NYC in 2014 whose aim is to inspire people to think differently about the edible food in their lives. She studied holistic nutrition at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver, BC and currently consults on wellness and food waste projects around the world.

Location: Chiba, Japan

Community Partners:

    • Terada Honke Brewery
    • Hidamari Farm
    • Miyamotoyami Farm
    • Brownsfield Initiative
    • Slow Food Kujakuri (a local chapter in Chiba)

Mission: To raise awareness about food waste and inspire change in behavior by connecting people to the food culture and community of Chiba, Japan via an immersive two-day trip. The trip highlights include harvesting “ugly produce” from a local farm, a visit to an artisanal sake production facility, and cooking a zero waste family-style meal alongside participants. 

Project Description

In an effort to immerse participants in the ethos of zero waste cooking, Celia created a self-contained trip that explored various facets of the movement. The itinerary included:

  • Tour of the Terada Honke Sake Brewery
    • The group learned about the history and preservation of traditional sake production and its byproduct sakekasu (which they used to cook with later on in the trip) 
    • Afterwards, the participants enjoyed a private sake tasting and dinner by brewery chef, and Terada’s wife, Satomi

  • Visit to Local Farms and Miso Lab with Wild Herb Foraging Adventure
    • Hidamari Farm (Sosa City, Chiba, Japan)
      • Participants visited an organic vegetable farm with local chef and farmer, Yasuhiro Ota

  • Miyamotoyama Farm (Satoyama, Chiba, Japan)
    • Participants toured the rice and soy bean farm and visited the family’s small miso production lab
    • The group also went herb foraging in the Satoyama mountain region with farmer and Slow Food Kujakuri member, Koyulu Saitou
    • Everyone was treated to an impromptu communally-made lunch with the family

  • Mindfulness Stay at Brownsfield Initiative Community
    • Participants were treated to an overnight retreat at the Sagrada Kominka guesthouse, a traditional 200 year old Japanese home best known for promoting sustainable practices and homesteading culture led by macrobiotic chef, Deco Nakajima, and photographer Everett Brown. The next morning began with a mindfulness activity, followed by a macrobiotic breakfast made with local, organic foods from the farm. 

  • Zero Waste Cooking Workshop
    • To gather ingredients for the meal, there was a “salvaged treasure hunt” at Brownsfield Initiative for recovered food items from the local store and farm which were used as the meal’s primary ingredients.
    • Guests were also invited to contribute items such as unused spices and edible products past their “best before” dates.
    • A multi-course meal was prepared in tandem by Celia along and the trip participants


Project Metrics

10: total participants

30: pounds of food rescued

9: recipes created for the farm-to-table zero waste meals

      • Yuzu Vegetable Ramen
      • Rainbow Salad
      • Odds & Ends Pickles
      • Beautiful Beetroot Onigiri
      • Imperfect & Roots Greens Salad  
      • Millet Risotto
      • Roasted Diakon  
      • Ginger and Cirtrus Tea 
      • Gluten Free Brownies

13: different “food waste” products salvaged and incorporated into the finished dishes including mushroom stems, sake byproduct, past-dated foods, and ugly produce.

Food For Thought

On the success of the project…

“In Japan, the importance of organic farming, let alone food waste, is not well known. In my observations, urban centers (e.g., Tokyo which is 1.5 – 2 hours away) have very little awareness of the local food systems in the surrounding countryside. Like most major cities, access to food is easy, cheap and convenient. Because of this trip, a new understanding of food waste was uncovered and a deep respect was gained for the community members we met and learned from. We were all deeply inspired by their dedication to making good food and drink from traditional practices.”

On language barriers…

“As Japanese is not my native language, this was a big challenge facing the trip since I had relied on translators to assist with logistical planning…all of whom had to back out of the trip last minute! Without them, seemingly simple tasks like picking up groceries became an adventure. We ended up with some incorrect products – e.g., mirin instead of vinegar – however we just used our mistakes as part of our zero waste cooking workshop to teach students how to improvise. It was actually a good reminder for me of why I started this project in the first place. It underscored mindfulness in the moment, being grateful for what we have, and the fact that what you have can always be enough!”

On going with the flow…

“The co-cooking activity was originally designed to be very structured with preset recipes and curriculum. However due to unanticipated changes, we adapted and instead had an impromptu cooking session using what we had. It ended up working beautifully as the group created a vibrant, heart-felt meal which we all enjoyed outdoors.”

On reflections from the participants…

“At the end of the trip, a female participant who studied culinary arts told me she was used to cooking from “perfect” recipes and that she was uncomfortable at the beginning of the zero waste cooking exercise. But she quickly realized that with a bit of direction and some suggestions from the group, she was able to create a delicious meal without a recipe. Overall, the group of participants conveyed they didn’t realize the scope of food waste and also how organic farmers account for only 1-2% of Japan’s total agricultural output.”

On small moments of impact…

“A couple who participated on the trip recently connected with Koyulu, one of the farmers we worked with, and arranged to purchase veggies to support his farm and supply their own family of boys with healthy food.”

On next steps…

“I’m beginning to plan a similar local initiative around a food rescue event in Bangkok. I have a meeting with a woman who is part of a local food recovery organization in town. It’s all very exciting as it’s the first I’ve heard of anyone doing this sort of work here.”


2017 Cook It Forward Grantee Spotlight: Christine Ranieri

Helping Homeless Youth Find A Seat at The Table

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary last year, we here at CulinaryCorps HQ decided to create a new and meaningful way for the organization to grow its mission via the Cook It Forward initiative. Cook It Forward is a micro-grant program open to CulinaryCorps alumni providing $555 in seed funding to help launch an outreach project of their own. This is our small way of giving back to the over 100 chef-volunteers who have given so much over the past decade to make our organization a delicious success.

Today, we are excited to share the outcomes of our first grant recipient, Christine Ranieri. A chef, Registered Dietician, and Houstonian, Christine proposed the creation of a cooking class series for homeless youth ages 18-21 in partnership with the local organization, Covenant House. She worked for nearly a year crafting and launching lesson plans, recipes, and even a grocery store tour. We were truly amazed by the big things she accomplished on such a small budget. Please read on for the outcomes of her ambitious (and delicious) efforts.

Project Title: Covenant House Rites of Passage Cooking and Nutrition Education Program

Alumni Grantee: Christine Ranieri, MS, RD, LD

Christine Ranieri is a culinary school trained chef and a Registered Dietitian. She is currently the Program Manager of the Bionutrition Research Core at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where she designs and implements clinical feeding trials for researchers examining the links between diet and cancer along the cancer continuum.

Location: Houston, Texas

Community Partner: Covenant House Texas

Mission: To deliver nutrition education, and to increase budget meal planning knowledge and cooking proficiency in homeless youths.

Project Description

Covenant House Texas (CHT) has been providing shelter for homeless youth aged 18-21 in Houston, Texas since 1983. They are one of a few service providers in Texas specifically addressing the needs of this age group, with a mission to provide a safe haven while also providing the youth with necessary skills, training and emotional support for them to become self-sufficient adults. CHT operates a short term crisis shelter, a shelter for pregnant and parenting teens, a transitional living program called Rites of Passage (ROP), and an apartment living program for graduates of the ROP program. CHT also provides free medical care, mental health services, substance abuse services, education, job development and vocational training, life skills and spiritual classes, amongst other support services.

With the input of CHT’s medical director, Dr. Albert Hergenroeder, and the clinic’s nurse-manager, Winnie Ombese, and the help a University of Houston dietetic intern, Brittany Link, I developed a six class cooking program that ran from October 2016-April 2017. The classes were held in the ROP building’s recreation room and kitchen, with the exception of the grocery store tour, which was held at a nearby Kroger. The classes covered the following six topics.

  1. October: Sugar Busters Class — Overview of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), hidden sources of sugar in the diet, and best alternatives to SSBs.
  2. November: Breakfast Cooking Class — how to read a recipe, cook eggs, and kitchen safety (knives, hot surfaces, pot handles, and how to store food to maintain freshness and avoid cross-contamination).
  3. January: Grab ‘n’ Go Lunch Cooking Class — mason jar salads, DIY cup o’ noodles, and portion sizes for adults and children.
  4. February: Grocery Store Tour — emphasis on stretching SNAP benefits while maximizing nutrition with shelf stable foods.
  5. March: Healthy Snacks — shopping on a budget, food safety and sanitation (focus on personal and kitchen sanitation, cooking temperatures and proper cooling and storing).
  6. April: Dinner Cooking Class — veggie kebabs, cornmeal crusted veggies with dipping sauce, and two methods for cooking chicken.

Project Metrics

90: total attendees throughout six sessions

10: total toddlers in tow!

12: total recipes prepared

22: fruits and vegetables included in recipes

2: recipes including chickpeas

21: individuals who had never tasted a chickpea before

24: wide-mouth mason jars used for DIY cup o’ noodles

Food For Thought

On the success of the project…

“I think that this project was a successful pilot to determine the best type of nutrition and cooking program to run with this population. There is the undeniable positive impact of getting together in a safe space to prepare and eat nourishing food.”

On making logistical mistakes early on…

“The first activity, a talk about sugar sweetened beverages that did not include any food samples, drew about 12 participants from both the ROP and the crisis housing programs. For the next month’s breakfast class, I prepped for 18 but at least 25 participated. My intern and I were completely swamped, and every last scrap of food was consumed! It was awesome but stressful. Thankfully, the ROP staff helped organize the youths and some of their children into groups, and my primary focus could be on teaching and keeping everyone safe in the kitchen. However, I’m really glad that this happened early on, as it made me streamline the recipes, and recognize that their actual kitchen was not appropriate for teaching. We moved into the dining area for future lessons.”

On the risks of tweaking your vision mid-project…

“Because of the change of venue, I was a bit disappointed that our cooking lessons turned into more assembly projects (threading veggie kebabs, layering cup o’ needles and assembling mason jar salads) that my intern and I would finish cooking in the kitchen. But regardless, at each event, the youth and the counselors told us that they had a lot of fun, and there were always people who tried a new food.

On peer-to-peer leadership…

“There were a few attendees who worked in fast food restaurants, and there were several wonderful opportunities for them to take the reins and lead a small group of their peers.”  

On the reality of budgetary constraints and healthful supermarket choices…

“On our grocery store tour, I was able to gather first-hand knowledge of the budgetary, storage and energy limitations that the youth have at Covenant House. For example, one participant asked, “Is the microwave ravioli in a can good for me? They fill me up, and when they go on sale, I can afford to buy a lot of them.” This was a teachable moment not only for the youth in attendance but for me and my intern as well. While we were both aware of the monetary barriers to healthy eating, this was the first time we needed to weigh the pros and cons of a can of Chef Boyardee in real time. Ultimately, I came down in favor of it. I explained that while there are more healthful choices out there that could be explored, it is a filling, shelf stable, affordable, and pleasurable meal to be enjoyed sometimes, especially when inexpensively supplemented with a piece of fruit, carrots, or canned beans.”

On the sustainability of this pilot projects…

“This project has great potential to be sustainable. In fact, last year I helped  Winnie Ombese and the Covenant House grant writer submit an initial application for a two year grant from the Aetna Foundation for funds to remodel the ROP kitchen, and purchase supplies for two years of cooking classes and for portable group cooking stations. Unfortunately, we were not chosen to submit a full application, but the brainstorming sessions were very valuable and the work will continue.”


A Week to Remember! Houston 2017 Recap


Hello CulinaryCorps Friends and Supporters,

Last Thursday, we wrapped up our 2017 culanthropy trip to Houston, Texas. The week spent together was humbling. Inspiring. Tear-inducing. Laughter-filled. And nourishing on many levels. We could not have wished for a better group of chefs nor a more hospitable line-up of project partners. And we certainly could not have asked for kinder sponsors and supporters…aka YOU!

To give you quick sense of what we accomplished, we wanted to share our trip with minimal words and maximum impact. To that aim, we broke it all down into two categories:

Here’s a curated look at our week of projects via our CulinaryCorps Google photo stream. Click on the info tab in each photo to get a brief description of the project/photo. And leave a comment if you feel so inclined!

Pictures say a thousand words but data says a whole lot more, 500 times that in fact! Here’s a look at the aggregate numbers from this year’s trip:

9 carefully selected chef-volunteers from across the country…

     Including 1 Hawaiian, Aloha!

     560 collective CulinaryCorps volunteer manpower hours across 5 days of culanthropy.

30 pounds of Plant It Forward Farms produce transformed into…

     12 amazing potluck dishes created by our chef-volunteers.

     20 recipes captured for Plant It Forward Farms to use in their CSA boxes.

     $500 worth of Home Depot gift cards donated to the farmer families.

7,000 meals assembled at the Houston Food Bank for delivery to hungry children living in the city.

     And 1,300 pounds of breaded chicken “trayed up” for the following day’s meal.

4 hands-on cooking classes launched for over 70 Camp PHEver campers from ages 3-21.

     Over 140 PHE-free dishes created by the campers themselves using…

             96-feet of spiralized cucumber

             22 pounds of cauliflower rice for our protein-free Poke Bowls

             70 cocktail umbrellas for our Rainbow Hawaiian Shave Ice (It was a Luau after all.)

Over 2 gallons of hand-spun vanilla ice cream made by…

     30 “ice cream scientists” at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center using just…

     12 pillowcases. (Nope, that’s not a typo. It really works.)

     And topped with 300,000 rainbow sprinkles!

$750 worth of kitchen equipment donated to the Houston Covenant House cooking program.

Thousands of heart-expanding moments of inspiration made possible by…

     5 generous corporate sponsors,

     1 super sweet Bake and Gather for Good fundraiser and

     110 amazing individual donors, like you, who helped us meet our fundraising goal!

For all your kindness, we offer our unquantifiable thanks. And we promise to continue cooking it forward throughout the year.

With our deepest gratitude,

Chris Carroll, Executive Director
Christine Ranieri, 2017 Trip Coordinator
and the 2017 CulinaryCorps Chef-Volunteer Team

Our {Amazing} 2017 Trip Sponsors!

We are over-the-moon about all of our sponsors this year! Here they are in no particular order…

Keep an eye out on the Bake and Gather for Good events calendar. It’s a sweet way to support non-profits including ours!

If you need a place to stay in Houston, definitely check out Towneplace Suites, our wonderful housing sponsor.

Or if you’re here and you’re hungry, stop by Underbelly, we promise it’ll be a meal to remember.

All of our shopping will be done at the amazing Central Market, our ingredient sponsor for this trip.

And let’s not forget to give a shout-out to G&B Packing Company for their support too.

Finally, we want to thank our steadfast benefactors, William and Anne Carroll, for contributing our largest single donation this year.

In fact, all of our generous sponsors are rock stars in our book, and we are incredibly thankful for them all.