The start of a new school year is always full of surprises, but our chefs and teachers weren’t prepared for the surprise we got at our first cooking class.

Our stove was missing.

We had used it for years, but it had been moved to a room next door to make way for a fancy new steam cooker. And it was unplugged and unusable.

Good chefs always need to deal with unexpected challenges, so ours plunged right in and started prep work for our first recipe, Mini Italian Frittatas.

Dariel Cordero led the way with knife skills (he’d seen them on TV cooking shows) but at one point he noticed there was no stove and asked “how are we going to cook this?” “We’re not sure,” we answered, “but Mr. Laver and Ms. Molino are working on it.” Eventually, Jamal Gill’s mother, who works at the school, went home and brought us a hot plate griddle and we were off and running.

By this time Dariel, Magavi Cortes and Leah Cuatlatl Morales had nicely diced the onion for our frittatas and mastered the “rocking” motion to chop spinach with the knife tip down on the cutting board. Meanwhile, Magavi also learned the meaning of “julienne” and had cut the basil into even, delicate strips.

Then it was time to crack the eggs, and our young chefs figured out that if there were eight eggs and four chefs each could do two. “There’s a lot of math in cooking,” we noted. Cracking eggs is fun and satisfying, even for chefs like Leah who had never done it before, and everyone liked the fact it didn’t matter if the yolks broke because they were going to be whisked together anyway with milk and yogurt.

Dariel led the way on whisking (again he’d seen it on TV) but Magavi, Jamal and Leah quickly learned proper wrist action to whisk effectively. With the whisking was under way, Magavi broke off to start sauteeing the onions on our newly acquired hot plate.

“I don’t like onions,” Leah said, but she was willing to try them when she learned they would sweeten up with cooking. Then it was time to put our frittatas together, and it was a team effort. Our chefs took turns placing the spinach and onion into the cups of the muffin tin, and each was excited to pour the egg mixture from our Pyrex measuring pitcher.

As Dariel carefully transported the muffin tray into the oven, Magavi, Jamal and Leah eagerly set the table when they learned we were eating together family style. And then they started washing dishes!

When the frittatas came out of the oven, Magavi and Leah were excited to see how beautifully golden brown they looked — and to realize they had MADE them. “They smell GOOOOOD,” they enthused. When we sat down to eat, everyone couldn’t wait to taste their creation. “This is delicious!” Dariel announced. “Now THAT’s what you call a recipe!” Jamal added. “I know my mom would LOVE this.”

After they finished their first frittatas, their first cooking class got a unanimous thumbs up. “I’m extremely excited,” Leah said. “I’ve been waiting the whole day for this,” Dariel added. The best, last word, however, came from Magavi. “I wish we could have cooking class every day,” she said.