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“Me neither. I wonder what we’ll learn to cook,” her friend George Fayne added.
“I hope it’s cupcakes. They’re my favorite!” George’s cousin Bess Marvin chimed in.
“Well, if it’s cupcakes, make sure to save a couple for me,” Hannah Gruen called out cheerfully from the driver’s seat. The Drews’ longtime housekeeper, Hannah had helped take care of Nancy from the time she was three. This morning she was driving the girls to camp. “Okay, here we are! As soon as I find a place to park, we can get you ladies settled in.”
Nancy, George, and Bess were spending a week at Kid Kuisine, a summer day camp just outside their hometown of River Heights. As Hannah pulled into the driveway, Nancy craned her neck to see outside. The main building reminded her of a gingerbread house, with candy-colored shutters and flowering window boxes. The sprawling yard was filled with apple trees, gardens, and a pond.
A big sign near the front door read: WELCOME TO KID KUISINE! On it were hand-painted pictures of cookies, pizza, and fruits and vegetables.
This is going to be so cool! Nancy thought excitedly.
Hannah led Nancy, George, and Bess inside and handed their forms to an older girl sitting at the front desk. The girl had shoulder-length brown hair and chunky black glasses; her name tag said ROSEMARY.
Rosemary squinted at their forms. “Okay, so, um, welcome, Nancy, Bess, and Georgia—”
“George,” George corrected her.
“Sorry. George. Everyone’s in the kitchen.” Rosemary lifted her arm to direct them and accidentally knocked down a container full of pens and pencils. “Oops! Why am I always doing that?”
While Rosemary picked up the pens and pencils, Hannah gave Nancy a quick hug. “I’ll see you girls later. Have fun!”
“Thanks, Hannah!” Nancy said, hugging her back.
Nancy and her friends headed through an arched doorway into the kitchen. It was a large, sunny room that was way bigger than Nancy’s kitchen at home. Along the walls were several fancy-looking silver refrigerators as well as shelves filled with bottles, boxes, and jars of ingredients. In the middle of the room was an enormous island with sinks and counter space. Copper pots and pans hung from the ceilings, gleaming brightly.
There were six kids—three boys, three girls—sitting on stools around the island. A tall, bald man was showing one of the girls how to hold a wooden spoon properly.
The man beamed at Nancy, George, and Bess. “Magnifico! You must be our last three campers! I am Chef Giorgio, your instructor in the art of fine cooking!”
“Chef Giorgio? That sounds like my name, George,” George said with a smile.
“I will have to call you Little Giorgio, then,” Chef Giorgio said merrily. “Come in, please, and find some empty seats. Now that we’re all here, we can go around and introduce ourselves.”
Nancy and her friends sat down. The girl from the front desk, Rosemary, wandered into the kitchen just then and began rearranging a rack of spices. Her eyes flicked anxiously in Chef Giorgio’s direction. Nancy wondered why she seemed nervous.
“Okay, so why don’t we all go around the room, say our names, and tell us a little something about yourselves?” Chef Giorgio suggested. “You can go first,” he said to the girl with the wooden spoon.
“Me? Oh!” The girl sat up very straight. She had long, curly red hair and freckles. “I’m Chloe O’Malley! I’m eight years old! My favorite food is pizza! I have a dog named Lola, and she loves pizza too!”
“Lola is not your dog, she’s mine,” the girl next to her said in a snotty voice. “I’m Cristin O’Malley,” she said to everyone else. “I’m ten years old, and I can do a front and straddle split. Oh, and I have the biggest City Girls collection of anyone in my whole entire school.”
“Grazie, Chloe and Cristin. That means ‘thank you’ in Italian. Okay, next? How about you?” Chef Giorgio gestured to a boy sitting across from the two sisters. He had scruffy blond hair and glasses and a T-shirt that said: GENIUS AT WORK.
“My name is Jeremy Kline. I’m ten, and I already know how to cook perfectly,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Magnifico! You’ll be a valuable addition to our little class, then,” Chef Giorgio said. “How about you? Have you done any cooking before?” he asked the boy next to Jeremy.
“Uh, yeah. I like to mix ketchup and orange juice and feed it to my little sister. It gives her a wicked stomachache,” the boy said, grinning. “Oh, and I’m Dev Kapoor, by the way.”
“Ketchup and orange juice? Ew,” Bess whispered to Nancy.
The boy next to Dev gave him a high five. “Dude, I’m all over that recipe!”
“And what’s your name?” Chef Giorgio asked him.
“Dylan. Dylan Wong. You can all call me Mr. Wong,” he joked.
Nancy, George, and Bess introduced themselves next. When they were done, Chef Giorgio pointed to a girl sitting to the right of Nancy. She was wearing a pretty red dress with flowers. “And you? Tell us about yourself.”
The girl squirmed in her seat. “Who, me? I’m Talisha. Talisha Nadine Eggers. I’m eight, and I . . . well . . . I don’t know really know how to cook,” she said quietly.
“Well, you will be an expert by the time this week is over!” Chef Giorgio said. “Okay, then. Let’s get started with our class. We have some basics to go over first. Rosemary, will you please hand out some aprons to our students?”
While Rosemary did this, Chef Giorgio went over a bunch of safety rules, like how to handle the ovens, burners, and knives and other sharp utensils. He added that each camper would have his or her own workstation, with a sink, counter space, and so forth.
“Every day, you will learn to make a delicious new recipe,” Chef Giorgio said. “And this Friday, which will be the last day of camp, there will be a very special event. We are going to—”
Chef Giorgio was interrupted by a very loud whirring noise. A moment later, someone screamed, “Help!”
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