Mouth-watering pizza with a cheese pull for days, hearty waffles decorated with sweet whipped cream and freshly sliced fruits, pesto gnocchi with the perfect combination of basil and nuttiness that hugs your tongue – with each dish, Berkeley High School’s Boys Who Cook club encourages students of all backgrounds to find solace and community in the kitchen.
Boys Who Cook was created during the 2022-23 school year by a group of students in hopes of combatting what they perceived to be the lack of diversity among students in the kitchen.
“We wanted to start a club when we saw that there weren’t really any cooking clubs at Berkeley High (School),” said Miles Dubinsky, a sophomore at BHS and board member of Boys Who Cook. The club holds occasional meetings at school where members can vote on a dish they would like to make at one of the club’s weekend cookouts.“You can show up to cookouts even if you don’t go to any of the meetings,” said Dubinsky. “They’re just a fun thing to do on the weekends.”
Brady Curran, a sophomore at BHS, became the club’s Health and Food Safety Manager last year as a freshman. Curran said, “I didn’t expect it to be as close and as fun as it is … everyone really gets to know each other.”
As a growing community of young chefs, Boys Who Cook made its presence known during this school year’s homecoming event, when the club organized a group of club members who helped to cook over 100 pounds of macaroni and cheese and cornbread in the school’s kitchen. They worked for multiple hours and successfully produced 300 servings of each dish for the event. “That was probably the biggest thing that we’ve done for this school, so it felt like a big accomplishment for helping be a part of that,” said Curran.
Aside from the club being a fun way to hang out and connect with different students, Boys Who Cook also serves a deeper purpose. Dubinsky finds that the club holds importance towards enhancing an individual’s basic life skills not only through high school but far into the future as well. “I like the idea of when I’m older, especially in college, being self-sufficient and being able to cook meals and save money,” said Dubinsky. “It’s just a really useful skill to have.”
For Theodore Lam, a sophomore at BHS and the treasurer of Boys Who Cook, leading the club allows him to transfer his culinary skills and knowledge to fellow rising chefs. “I think I grew up in a household where there was a lot of cooking going on and whether I wanted to or not, I had to participate,” said Lam. However, Lam noted that not everyone is raised in an environment that places an emphasis on teaching children cooking skills. “Many people have families that don’t really (teach how to cook), that don’t support them in that way,” said Lam. To aid this lack of opportunity in the kitchen setting, Boys Who Cook has created an easygoing space for students to build their culinary expertise and creativity.
“The idea of the club was to get boys to learn how to cook because in a traditional (patriarchal) society, they don’t know how to do that,” said Lam. “And we decided that that was silly, and we wanted to teach people how to (cook).”
While the club’s goal is to inspire boys to feel more comfortable about cooking and foster community, it is also a gender-neutral space invites all individuals looking to explore themselves in the kitchen, regardless of gender. “I’m hopeful to see where it goes once we … grow and hopefully have … a more diverse club,” said Dubinsky.