The Art of Cooking

Chef Carlin encourages fun while kids are learning

by Bradley Hartsell


Chef Carlin Breinig shows kids at Carnegie Library Tuesday morning the best way to cut all the fruit in the recipe of the day – fruit cupcakes. 

Kids of Coweta County got a treat Tuesday when Chef Carlin Breinig came to teach them how to cook in the “Art of Cooking,” complete with healthy food and fun colors.

“What can we do that might be fun?” Breinig rhetorically asked the roomful of kids at the Newnan Carnegie Library. “We’re going to make fruit cupcakes.”

Previewing all the food the kids were going to get to play with, Breinig had tables lined with plates to work on and bowls of almost a dozen different fruits. She took the kids through every fruit to show just what they would be working with and, in several cases, have fun with.

“These are the cutest grapes you have ever seen,” Breinig said cheerfully, while holding up miniature grapes to show them off. “They’re [miniature] like chocolate chips.”

“We have every color of the rainbow with our fruit artistic creations,” she added.

Breinig, who has held several demonstrations at Carnegie Library over the past couple of years, ambitiously wanted to teach a cooking class containing healthy ingredients, traditional summertime taste and fun for kids ages four to ten to build together. With the smiles on the kids’ faces and the praise coming from many of the parents and/or grandparents, Breinig accomplished everything she was searching for as a teacher.

“The program is wonderful for Newnan. And it keeps my kids out of my kitchen,” laughed Tonya Jones, there with her two daughters, Jana and Jenna. “The [classes’] food is a healthy snack and you can’t complain about that.”

At their workstations, kids were free to construct whatever type of snack they wanted. Some built well-designed fruit towers, topping them with icing, while others just threw a collage of mashed fruit and a lot of icing together. No matter their design strategy, kids played with the food, played with each other and, most importantly, ate what they created.

“It’s fun for them, because they usually look at fruit as a downer,” said Jones. “But they cut into it all and tried every piece.”

While the kids experimented with their healthy food creations, Breinig oversaw her pupils and stepped in several areas where her and one of the children could have fun together. On one occasion, Breinig teamed up with eight-year-old Sara Henderson, who was building her fruit tower as high as it would go. With smiles on both of their faces, they put icing all over the food tower.

After another successful cooking demonstration by Breinig, Carnegie Library’s reason to keep bringing her back to Newnan from Atlanta is well-deserved. Throughout her numerous demonstrations, including many for kids, Breinig has a strong history of providing an affable personality and delicious food to everyone at one of her classes.

“This was so fun for her. She was so excited to meet the chef who cooked at The White House,” said Henderson’s grandmother, Annselma Wood, referencing one of Breinig’s personal accomplishments in her 16 years of being a personal chef in Atlanta. In 2011, Breinig was honored by The White House as a Champion of Change, a government-chef pairing to healthily combat the rise in childhood obesity.

Many parents or grandkids wanted their little ones to have fun with Breinig, who has taught many children cooking classes, fitting for her beaming personality and child-like wonder of food herself. Others knew beyond fun, the kids could build a foundational appreciation and curiosity for cooking.

Judy Davenport knew it would suit her grandchildren perfectly.

“My grandkids love to cook. They cook a lot at home. They always like to present [their food] and this food today is quite the presentation. It’s very colorful,” said Davenport, who instructs a weekly crochet class at Carnegie Library and is quite familiar with their dedication to community programs. “The Carnegie does such a good job with everything, providing all of these programs.”

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