COAL TOWNSHIP - Ten area students got out of the heat and into the air-conditioned kitchen this week for the new Junior Chef's Academy at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center.

The academy is being taught by culinary arts instructor James Schiavoni for children in the sixth through eighth grades. For five hours a day Monday through today, they learned basic food preparation, safety and sanitation, plating and serving food, cooking, grilling and baking. They made their own lunch daily and received a complimentary chef apron on the first day.

"They are making their own food and they aren't going home hungry," Schiavoni said about the students, five girls and five boys.

Ten-year-old Jennifer Raup of the Line Mountain School District is one of the participants.

"I really like cooking and I wanted to learn more about it," she said when asked why she was attending the academy.

She rattled off a list of foods she had learned to make: sticky buns, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, bread, waffles, pancakes and cookies. Her favorite, though, are the omelettes students made Wednesday.

Schiavoni is quite pleased with both the response for the first-time event and with the hard work the students put in.

"The five hours goes very fast, and we have been so busy," he said Wednesday. "We have done quite a bit and they ask a lot of great questions. They are very eager.

"For me, it is a lot of fun," he added.

Toward the end of Wednesday's session, the scent of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies hung heavy in the air while students prepared for today's meals. On the menu - and cooking list - are french toast with bacon and sausage patties, grilled chicken and cake.

Schiavoni was showing several students how to make sausage patties with a maple syrup glaze while others placed the bacon on baking sheets and other students cleaned up.

All 10 said they'd come back and encourage others to try the chef school.

"I would recommend coming next year," said Devon Edmondson, 14, of Mount Carmel.