High school students are schooled in the art of the meal by celebrity chef Diane Kochilas at the Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend

High school students are schooled in the art of the meal by celebrity chef Diane Kochilas at the Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend

High school students are schooled in the art of the meal by celebrity chef Diane Kochilas at the Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend
Aiden Serna of Berry Creek High School with YouthPower365 puts the finishing touches on an appetizer during the Mediterranean Collaboration Dinner with Chef Santosh Koradi and Guest Chef Diane Kochilas during the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend Friday at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek .
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Among the celebrity chefs in town for the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend was a group of local high school students.

The students, all members of the high school’s culinary club YouthPower365, joined Santosh Koradi, executive chef at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, and Diane Kochilas for a multi-course Mediterranean meal Friday night.

Kochilas is a celebrity chef known for her expertise in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. In addition to hosting a cooking travel show, My Greek Table, Kochilas has written more than 18 books on cuisine and runs the Glorious Greek Kitchen on Ikaria Cooking School every spring and fall on the island.



Guest Chef Diane Kochilas addresses the audience about the benefits of exposing children to the culinary world during the Mediterranean Collaborative Dinner during Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend in Beaver Creek.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The experience allowed the students to see first-hand how such a meal comes together, from start to finish, while also assisting the chefs. Koradi said the students were given the opportunity to tackle “every corner” of the meal.

By participating in this event, students were able to bring the knowledge they had gained from Koradi and the YouthPower365 culinary club into a real-world experience.

Support local journalism



Koradi has played a leading role in the new YouthPower365 cooking club for high school students, which the organization began piloting in the spring of 2023. The club is one of the organization’s after-school programs aimed at fostering student interest in different fields.

“We started the cooking club to try to tap into many different student interests. All students love food and healthy eating after school is really important to us and the kids, so this is a way for them to learn about other cultures, read recipes, write recipes and use maths to measurement and conversions and work on friendships and teamwork,” said Kaitlyn Merriman, manager of youth and family programs at YouthPower365.

Kids with YouthPower365 help with appetizers during the Mediterranean Collaboration Dinner with chef Santosh Koradi and guest chef Diane Kochilas during the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend Friday at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. The children worked alongside the chefs to help with dinner.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The club brings together students with different skill sets and learning styles around one thing in common: food.

Koradi was brought in from the beginning and helped develop the program as a guest chef, Merriman said.

“He would go into schools and teach our students basic culinary skills and talk about his career and how he ended up where he is today,” she said, adding that Koradi has provided mentorship and motivation for many students to pursue culinary arts. the kitchen. a career.

“It’s a very clear career path,” Merriman said. “The club identifies a career path for students if it’s something they’re interested in and passionate about, but it also just empowers them to make healthy decisions. It gives them the knowledge that they can be responsible for what they eat, how they eat it and gives them a sense of confidence to be able to make their own decisions.”

Chefs from 8100 Restaurant at the Park Hyatt help kids with one of the courses during Friday’s Mediterranean Collaboration Dinner with Chef Santosh Koradi and Guest Chef Diane Kochilas during Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend in Beaver Creek.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Koradi himself has served as a chef in seven different countries working for a variety of brands and corporations. After working in Dubai, Seychelles, Nairobi, Egypt, Nepal and the Bahamas, he moved to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in 2021.

When asked to help with the culinary club, Koradi jumped at the chance to share his craft with high school students.

“Children are very energetic; they like to see all the different sides of food,” Koradi said.

In addition to teaching them the basics of cooking, Koradi said he aims to teach them about the history of cuisine and food — answering questions about where certain food items come from — as well as industry knowledge. This includes talking with them about menu creation for different cuisines, as well as teaching them about food costs and what it takes to run and operate a restaurant.

Koradi said the students have even learned a few things because of the large number of questions they ask. He admitted that he sometimes had to do his own research before returning to students with answers.

“The kids always love to come and see the kitchen,” Koradi said, adding that the culinary weekend gives students a chance to see and work in the kitchen during a fine dining experience and a high-pressure event.

Koradi’s involvement — as well as the students’ participation in the culinary weekend — “shows students the professional side of things, where if they were to pursue this as a career, this is potentially a glimpse into that life,” Merriman added.

Nailea Martinez of Homestake Peak School helps prepare appetizers during Friday’s Mediterranean collaboration dinner with chef Santosh Koradi and guest chef Diane Kochilas at the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. The children of YouthPower365 assisted the chefs during the event, giving them valuable culinary skills and experience.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Last year, the club started at just two schools, but due to demand and popularity, it is now being offered at all four high schools in the Eagle County School District: Homestake Peak, Berry Creek, Eagle Valley and Gypsum Creek.

“The students have been very enthusiastic about it,” Merriman said. “Every club at each of the four high schools is full and has a waiting list.”


Never ask “What should we do this weekend?” again. Get a weekly roundup of all the best events in Vail Valley delivered to your inbox every Friday. Sign up here: VailDaily.com/newsletter


As the club grows, Merriman added that the organization is looking for ways to involve students’ families in the program as well.

“In our busy lives, it’s really easy to forget that sitting down and eating a meal together can be one of the best ways to bond as a family. And so we also really want to promote the idea of ​​family involvement, she said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *