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Young Chefs Academy Hits The Road For Lunar New Year Fun

Young Chefs Academy Hits The Road In Search Of Lunar New Year Fun

Curriculum Coordinator, Rachel Solano, takes in the culture and traditions of the Lunar New Year

Cooking involves more than ingredients and recipes.  Cultures can shape the culinary essence of various traditions we celebrate today.  As the nation’s leader in cooking schools for kids, we inherently include cultural background on recipes, as well as regional ingredients and techniques used while incorporating history that make each dish unique.

The Lunar New Year is among our favorite celebrations we look forward to sharing with our students each year.

This special holiday begins on the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends with a full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the year is the lantern festival when children carry beautiful lanterns that illuminate the night.

This year, the Lunar New Year began on January 25th. According to the Chinese Zodiac, it is the year of the ambitious and charismatic rat.

So, what make this observance so special?  Young Chefs Academy‘s Curriculum Coordinator, Rachel Solano, was going to find out first hand.

Celebrating Lunar-Style

During Lunar New Year, you will see homes and stores decorated in the lucky colors of red and gold. Some people may even dress in red for all fifteen days of Lunar New Year!

The Lunar New Year is celebrated with family, friends, an elaborate bouquet of food, firecrackers, and the famous dragon dance. It is a true family affair and a time of reunion and celebration. Family time is celebrated on New Year’s Eve with a delicious banquet prepared in honor of the family ancestors.  Firecrackers are then shot off to welcome the New Year and to ward off evil spirits. The day is spent visiting with family and friends. The younger generations bow to their elders and wish them good wealth, prosperity, and happiness for the coming year. In turn, children receive little red envelopes with crisp dollar bills for good luck.

Large crowds will gather to see the Lunar New Year dragon dance, a tradition that is meant to scare away evil, and bring good luck to shops and storekeepers. In return, the dragons are given money to put into their red envelopes. The beautiful dragon sways, jumps, and climbs to retrieve the red envelopes tied to roof tops and light posts.

Traditional fare served during Lunar New Year banquets  (left-hand images); Chinese Letter writing (logograms) workshops (bottom center), and; the traditional dragon dance (bottom right)

Immersed in Tradition

Rachel Solano, traveled to Houston, Texas, this Lunar New Year to get an empirical glimpse into some of these traditions while participating in some of the festivities during the Lunar New Year Festival.

The Chinese Community Center, located in Houston’s China Town, hosted the festival featuring Chinese letter writing (logograms) workshops, arts, crafts, and Asian street food. After an indulgent lunch buffet at Houston’s popular Kim Son restaurant, Rachel happened upon a large crowd gathered outside to watch the traditional dragon dance. Dozens of children eager to earn money for their little red envelopes performed the dragon dances, and the local shop owners were delighted to oblige.

We can only imagine what new nuggets of information Rachel will share with our young chefs after this exciting venture.  The Young Chefs Academy proprietary curriculum is packed with fun learning tools and information, as well as a touch of adventure.

“May the star of happiness, the star of wealth, and the star of longevity shine on you.”

Happy Year of the Rat!

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