From cooking with his grandfather and harvesting his own garden, Derin Moore knew from a very young age he wanted to be a professional chef. He turned that passion into his career and is now the award-winning Certified Master Chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee with a culinary career spanning more than 30 years.

With three kids of his own, he remembers continuing the family tradition. “I taught them how to prepare meals with fresh ingredients and how to season the food properly while keeping the menu simple. Plus I loved the extra one-on-one time with them. Homemade comfort food is my go-to. Not many kids like fancy food.”

Hoping to share his love of food with even more youngsters, Chef Moore recently held a junior cooking class with five of Reynolds youngest Members. The group of fourth graders gathered at the Great Waters clubhouse one Saturday morning dressed in their chefs’ whites. On the lesson plan—and the menu—was homemade pasta, summer tomato sauce, and baked parmesan bread.

Chef Moore taught them how to make noodles from scratch, a first for all five, by cracking the eggs and sifting the flour into the mixer. “I didn’t know noodles were made from dough,” said Kensley Windham. She and her fellow novices took turns rolling the dough and feeding it into a pasta machine that sliced it into spaghetti noodles.

“What is your backup plan if the pasta doesn’t turn out just right?” asked Walker Poyner. Impressed by the young man’s thinking, Chef Moore laughed and said, “Well, you can always buy store-bought noodles and keep the sauce homemade, but practice makes perfect!”

To make the bread, Chef sliced baguettes and had the kids brush their loaves with olive oil, topping each one with garlic, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Poyner went heavy with the garlic because, he said, “It scares off all the vampire!"

With the bread in the oven, the next task was homemade sauce with fresh summer tomatoes. “It’s easy to buy pre-made sauce at the grocery store,” Chef Moore admitted to his young charges. “But wait until you taste the difference simply by using fresh ingredients like tomatoes, basil, and onions.” There was even a basil plant for the little cooks to pick from, with a brave few tasting it right off the stem. “It tastes minty, like a piece of candy,” said Drew Urrutia. As the sauce simmered, Brady Seybt spoke up for her compatriots: “It smells so good in here.”

Broughton Evans tasted the sauce. “It’s perfect,” he said. “Can we eat now?”Their plates piled high, the six chefs moved to the clubhouse dining room to enjoy their creations. “Isn’t it wonderful to make your own meals?” asked Chef Moore. “Can you tell the difference from what you buy at the grocery store?” Their mouthsfull, the five could only respond with nods.

Chef Moore strongly encourages parents to bring their children into the kitchen to help and learn that cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating. “It’s not about whether the food is good or bad or having fancy equipment,” Chef explains. “It’s about appreciating fresh foods prepared together as a family.” Having whipped up a successful first class, Chef Moore hopes to offer more junior cooking classes in the future.

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