JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - School may not be in session yet, but one group of kids is learning a lot and having a great time.
Students in the Arkansas State University summer camp program got to cook one on one with an expert close to their age.
Former Chopped Junior Contestant Riley Mitchell from Nashville traveled to the Math and Science Magnet School on Tuesday to teach students how to cook the signature dish she made on the show.
"I am teaching some kids how to make sliders from my demo that I did for Chopped Junior," Mitchell said.
Riley said she started her cooking journey about a year ago and has been hooked ever since.
"I love cooking," Mitchell said. "When I went on Chopped Junior I loved being there because I got to try different foods and I got to meet a lot of people who also love cooking so it was really fun."
Mitchell said she wanted to pass on all she learned to other kids.
"It's really fun," Mitchell said. "It can be kind of nerve-racking but sometimes I don't know what to say, but otherwise it's really, really fun. I like teaching people how to cook."
Principal Rickey Greer of the Math and Science Magnet School said he was thrilled when he was contacted by A-State about the upcoming event.
"One of the things we wanted to do to continue our collaboration with Arkansas State University is to allow them to use our facilitates in the summer time to extend learning for our kids," Greer said. "It gives the kids an opportunity to learn something new."
Greer said he was happy to help provide students with this rare learning experience.
"They're spending time with other adults who are teaching them new skills, life skills so it really gives the kids a chance to expand their own knowledge," Greer said.
Mitchell said there's no such thing as trying something too soon.
"You're never too young to start cooking," Mitchell said. "You can always have help. I'm not old enough to cook alone at my house so my parents have to be there. But it's still fun to start cooking at a young age because then you have lots of time to get experience."
8-year-old Lillie Mae Rutledge is attending the A-State summer camp and she said she loved it.
"We get to make food, have fun, play with friends," Rutledge said. "We just have a great time!"
"I like cooking," 8-year-old Lyla Woods said. "You get to make new things and you get to try new things."
Summer camp participant Diego Buford said there were a lot of things about camp that put a smile on his face.
"I learned how to make chicken," Buford said. "I learned how to make chicken tortillas and it had other stuff in it and I also had fun because I didn't just cook. I also got to do blocks and learn kids names and I made my own apron."
Mitchell said cooking is about sparking an interest and having a voice.
"Cooking is like my favorite thing to do," Mitchell said. "It's how I express myself. Some people have art, some people have acting. Cooking is another thing people like to do and it's how I like to express myself."
Mitchell also shared her experience on Chopped Junior with the students in attendance.
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