Gavin Cai makes memories while learning important life skills

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Annie Douma

Senior Gavin Cai posing with his chef hat

In life, there are few hobbies that would end with your friend eating cold chicken fried rice out of a plastic bag; however, senior Gavin Cai may have found the only one. 

Gavin recently started his cooking journey this year due to the two free hours he has every Thursday. Despite having hardly any prior cooking experience, Gavin and his two friends Max Cooper and Chris Shang decided this was the year they would learn how to make themselves a proper meal. 

Each free period, they would search for a recipe and just go for it. After their skills started to improve with each new meal they made, they would take a picture of the final product to send to their friends who weren’t fortunate enough to share the free period with them. 

“Every time we make new food, we’ll take pictures of it and send it to our group chat with all our friends at school,” Gavin said. “And every time they would be super mad that they couldn’t have any. So, one time, we brought [senior] Noah Gleason this little plastic bag of chicken fried rice—that was cold—and he ended up cutting the corner off and dumping it in his mouth, and he ate all of it.” 

This is just one of the many humorous events that have occurred in the few short weeks Gavin has been doing this. 

For being beginners in the kitchen, Gavin explains that they actually haven’t had any major mistakes; that being said, he further explains that just last week, his mom had to swoop in and save their recipe. 

“We were almost done cooking our meal that day, and we were waiting for it to finish,” Gavin said. “But that’s when my mom comes over just to take a look, and she pokes at our rice and says, ‘The rice is still completely raw, Gavin.’ So we were like, ‘Oh, um,’ not knowing exactly what to do, and then she turned the heat up. So she basically saved us, and if it wasn’t for her, we would’ve been eating raw rice.”

Luckily for Gavin, his mom doesn’t mind lending her expertise when necessary. In fact, both of his parents are just happy he is showing an interest in cooking at all. 

From the ripe age of eight years old, Gavin’s parents have tried to convince him that knowing how to cook is a necessary life skill, and now, after a long period of time, they get to not only watch him learn but also occasionally taste his food. 

It’s nice to be able to serve her and other people and see them like to eat my food.”

“My mom loves it when I cook,” Gavin said. “She’s been trying to get me to learn forever. So, she’s super happy that I’m planning on learning how to do it myself, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to serve her and other people and see them like to eat my food. It makes it more enjoyable for me too when I know other people like it.”

However, aside from the meals actually tasting good and Gavin sharing his food with his friends and family, there is another essential benefit of educating oneself in the art of cooking right before they graduate: college. 

Gavin explains that with college coming up sooner than we all realize, cooking is a basic skill he’s definitely going to not only need next year but also for the rest of his life.

“One of our main reasons for wanting to learn—aside from the fact we just thought it would be fun—was because we wanted to learn a little bit more before we go off to college,” Gavin explains. “So we can actually take care of ourselves and not have to go out for food all the time and waste our money on something we could easily pick up at least the basics of.”

The practicality of learning how to cook was certainly prominent in Gavin’s mind, however, at the end of the day, some of the memories he has taken away from cooking with his friends every Thursday, or surprising other peers with home-cooked meals—potentially disguised in a plastic bag—is something much more valuable. 

“We are just a bunch of dudes, in the kitchen, with aprons on, making memories and bonds to last us a lifetime,” Gavin said.