Teaching Skills for Life


What should sweating vegetables sound like? What does finished salmon feel like? Participants in the Teaching kitchen program now know thanks to the expert guidance of Chef Woods.

SSG Melissa Woods or Chef Woods, as she’s known in the kitchen, is the head culinary instructor for a 12-week Teaching Kitchen training program. The program, now in its second cohort of students is a multi-faceted approach to lifestyle education that focuses on building culinary, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness skills.

The program’s goal is to increase skills and confidence in the kitchen, support lifestyle changes, and improve the overall health and wellness of its participants.

Learning through Experience

We all know we should eat healthier, live healthier, stress less, sleep more, but what we don’t always know is HOW. HOW do you eat healthier without breaking the bank or overdosing on boring salads? What is my sleep quality?

The concept of the project is to look at all areas of a person’s life. Participants learn what keeps them from being healthy and what some small changes are in exercise, sleep, nutrition, cooking, and stress that will make a big impact in their challenge areas.

A Bit of Healthy Competition

Participants are active duty service members, about half of whom are participating with their spouses. Couples have an opportunity to learn together and grow as part of the program.

Camaraderie, shared experiences and healthy competition fuels the group. At a recent course a couple was laughing at the difference in their sleep time and quality. Pictures of dishes that participants had made at home flash across a screen in front of the classroom: green beans with touch of olive oil and lemon pepper; chipotle chocolate chili; vegetable barley soup; and roast chicken. Oohs and ahhs from the participants follow along with some back-slapping for motivation.

For some of the participants, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to focus on the idea of their health in a larger context. With the help of their expert instructors, the participants will leave the program armed with more than just recipes, but with confidence and know-how.

When asked if she needed help making quinoa, one participant said, “I don’t need a recipe. I’m a good chef now. I can do it.”