When our young chefs first learned we would be making chicken in Week 3, they could barely contain their excitement. “Can we start now?!” Jamal Gill exclaimed, a full week ahead when we had barely put the dishes away from Week 2. He was disappointed to learn he would have to wait a week, but his enthusiasm was still strong when we finally got to make Buttermilk Roast Chicken.

So was the excitement of his classmates, who exclaimed “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” when they saw the beautiful drumsticks laid out on our prep table.

The rest of the menu got a quick thumb’s up as well, when Leah Cuatlatl Morales declared “I’m gonna love me some fries!”

Buttermilk Roast Chicken is a great meal for showing kids that meats can taste good when they’re not deep fried — and so can potatoes.

Our chefs were excited to see how they would fit together and divided into teams to get them ready. Dariel Cordero and Yandel Vazquez took on the sweet potatoes while Jamal, Leah and Magavi Cortes mixed the mix for coating the drumsticks.

Dariel and Yandel soon learned that some things in cooking are hard — hard as uncooked sweet potatoes and also hard to do. “It’s OK to ask for help,” we told Yandel, when he was struggling to slice a particularly hard potato end-to-end. “OK. Can you help me?” he answered, and with a little adult weight, the potato split in half. Dariel, meanwhile, was cutting the potatoes into half moons and learning why they are called that.

At the other end of the table, Magavi, Jamal and Leah were having fun smashing garlic and crushing peppercorns (talk about HARD), and learning what the spice cumin tastes like. Then everything went into freezer bags with the buttermilk and maple syrup to marinate the chicken. When our chefs saw how this was done, everyone wanted a turn massaging the drumsticks in bags and laying them on the sheet pans. Then it was on to measuring and mixing the spices for the potatoes and learning the difference between teaspoons and tablespoons. Plus the discovery that coating vegetables in a bowl is easier using two spoons than just one.

When the chicken and fries came out of the oven, the class couldn’t believe how great they smelled. And they made sure they looked great too, arranging them artfully on a platter with orange fries in the middle and golden drumsticks at the ends. And how did the meal measure up? Let’s put it this way: Everyone came back for seconds, and they got into a bidding war to rate the menu.

“I give it a 9.7 out of 10,” Dariel exclaimed. “I give it a 10 out of 10,” Jamal countered. “No, I give it an 11 out of 10. It smells and tastes so good!”