Stella Niagara Education Park eighth-grader Brian Armstrong certainly knows his way around the kitchen. The student prepared traditional paella for his classmates as part of a Spanish assignment.
"I wanted to give the kids a project that was fun to start off the new year," said Jill Olsen, foreign language instructor at SNEP. Each student was asked to prepare an authentic Spanish dish to share. In addition, they were to translate the recipe and give their oral presentation in Spanish.
"I never made paella before, but I knew I didn't want to make something little," said Armstrong. "I really wanted to make something with a 'wow factor'." Paella is a complex dish that consists of seasoned rice, chicken, shrimp, mussels, and other seafood. All the ingredients and cooking utensils, including a large traditional paella pan, were brought in to school. The chicken and shrimp were pre-cooked, but the majority of the dish was prepared in the school kitchen following the lunch program. "I was surprised that it came out!" he said.
Armstrong began cooking three years ago when his family stayed with his grandmother during a home remodeling project. "She cooked every day and I just started cooking with her."
Armstrong, who has been a student at SNEP since Montessori pre-school, has been studying Spanish for over eight years and will take the New York State Spanish Regents examination in June.
In the photo, Armstrong shows Sister Margaret Sullivan, Stella principal, how he prepares Spanish paella in the Stella Niagara Education Park kitchen.