HANCOCK - For many teens, sushi with its raw fish and texture of seaweed is not very appealing.
But students at the BRIDGE Alternative High School tried their hand at tasting, and in some cases making, the Japanese specialty during a session with Portage Health chef Mark Pittillo Monday.
It's part of an ongoing program at the school on making healthy food choices on a tight budget. It included lessons on nutrition; basic cooking skills; introduction to specific dishes using grains, fruits and vegetables; healthy drinks and snacks; and foods of different cultures. The program was created through the Portage Community Health Endowment Fund.
Mark Pittillo of Portage Health and BRIDGE Alternative High School students Tyler Beuchert and Jaclyn Schutz make sushi at the school Monday. The class is part of a program teaching students how to make healthy eating choices on a tight budget. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)
For their final project, students will plan a menu for a meal for a large group. Groups of four will create a menu for a cook-off, with the winner cooking with Pittillo for the Keweenaw Community Foundation board.
"From the beginning, talking about tobacco use, and then incorporating exercise, basic nutrition, information to make healthy choices, has inspired a lot of conversation," said Arnie Kinnunen of the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.
Pittillo demonstrated the basics of sushi-making before turning it over to 11th-grader Tyler Beuchert and 12th-grader Jaclyn Schutz.
The chefs rolled out seaweed or a gluten-free soy wrapper over a bamboo mat, then spread rice and other toppings, such as tuna or shrimp, before rolling up the mat. The roll was then closed by applying water on the opening.
The students then sampled the results, along with the typical accompaniments of ginger, soy sauce and wasabi.
It was the first time eating or making sushi for Beuchert.
"It was a blast," he said. "I had fun doing that."
"I thought it was going to be gross, but it was good," she said. "I think it's really interesting. It shows us how to cook a lot of different things that I never would have known about otherwise."