article by Charlotte Christopher in The Sand Mountain Reporter 
    While many kids hit the beaches during their recent spring break, Albertville fifth-grader Will Siskey chose to go to a school of a different kind. The Evans Elementary student chose to attend Paula Deen's 700 Kitchen Cooking School.

"Will applied for the school ahead of time but was turned down because he was not 16-years-of-age, which was one of the school's requirements," said his mom, Rebecca Rogers.

    Being turned down did not dissuade young Will from still wanting to go to Savannah for his spring break. After all, history is his favorite subject in school, so his trip was still on. Of course, one of the first things he wanted to do was visit Paula Deen's Restaurant and while he and his mom were at the famous restaurant, they met Bobby Dean. Impressed with the young man's questions and interest in the culinary arts, Dean decided to call his famous mom and encouraged her to accept the eleven-year-old into the classes.

"Can you believe it," said the enthusiastic future chef. "A lot of those people had their reservations in for months ahead and he just picked up the phone and I got to go after all."

    Will began cooking at an early age. His mom recalled how she would work in her grandmother's kitchen as a child and she had a lot of wonderful memories of that. She decided she wanted to pass that along to her son. At age two, Will was helping Mom with making sugar cookies and by the time he was four, his culinary skills had developed. Those skills were helpful later when his mother was involved in an automobile accident and broke her back.

"I was in a body cast for a while and had to have something to do at home, so I would sit and cook and Will was right there," said Rogers.

    Will and his Mom have been a good team for meal preparation. He is always the first to volunteer when a meal needs to be prepared. His taste for all types of food has been extended over the years because his parents have had people from other cultures in and out of their home when entertaining them through business.

    Will has built an extensive library of cookbooks for one so young. He has an entire collection of Paula Deen cookbooks, a kid's cookbook published by Williams-Sonoma, Hershey's Best Loved Recipes, and a first edition "Calling All Cooks," which actually belongs to his mom from her grandmother, but she shares it with him.

    He has his favorite recipes, too. Familiar with many of the cooking terms, he can talk intelligently about different aspects of cooking.

   Will impressed Chef Darin Sehnert at the 700 Kitchen School so much that he had young Will as his assistant in the kitchen.

"I learned a lot of things," said Will, demonstrating how a chef should hold a knife and cut on a cutting board. "I found out I had been holding it wrong, but I won't do that anymore. I also learned how to tell what is missing from a food. Did you know the tongue has different sections for tasting? The tip of the tongue tastes sweet things, the sides taste sour, the back of the tongue tastes bitterness and the middle of the tongue can be used to test saltiness."

    Will said he also found out some of the best foods for you are simple to prepare.

"Not only is he a good cook, he is really into eating healthy," said his mom.

    Will has high hopes for the future and wants to eventually go to culinary school and have a restaurant one day. He's even thinking about having a cooking class for some of his classmates this summer.

    Beside coming away with some of the recipes that he has agreed to share with our readers, he also has a nice collection of aprons from Emeril and some autographed ones from Paula Deen, in addition to a very small apron he wore as a child. Needless to say, his favorite television channel is the Food Network.

 


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