The students at George Read Middle School were served up a surprising celebrity visit last month as TV Master Chef Yi Lynne Weber put on an exciting – and delicious – classroom cooking demonstration at the New Castle school.
Stationed with her family at the Dover Air Force Base, Chef Yi Lynne has rubbed aprons with the culinary world’s biggest superstars including Gordon Ramsey while appearing on hits including Master Chef, Last Call, Food Brawl and the Food Network’s Cut Throat Kitchen.
In 2017, the North Carolina-born chef was named the official “in-house chef” for Marydel’s Harvest Ridge Winery and she is now a caterer and event planner on the Dover base.
Chef Yi Lynne’s wizardry with the George Read kids focused on the importance of healthy breakfast choices while also providing practical tips for getting it done in the kitchen. Chef Yi Lynne taught the middle schoolers the proper way to hold and use a knife and how to crack and cook eggs correctly.
The resulting breakfast tacos received a resounding five stars from the discerning diners.
The visit was arranged by Debonee Rowe, a Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG) classroom specialist. The JDG program focuses on keeping at-risk students in school and providing them with skills to enter the job market. Rowe and Chef Yi Lynne met taking Krav Maga martial arts classes and they quickly hit it off, talking about family, career and life.
On one occasion, Chef Yi Lynne mentioned ensuring that her son had basic kitchen skills to use before he went off to college so that he could fix himself quick and healthy meals while away from home. Rowe immediately thought of the healthy choices unit at George Read, and Chef Yi Lynne was quickly invited for a hands-on cooking demo with the students.
Rowe said the foodie workshop was a big hit with students but they were mostly pleased to learn how to properly hold the knives and cut food correctly.
“They also were excited to learn from someone who has worked directly with Chef Gordon Ramsay,” said Rowe.
Chef Yi Lynne and her family have lived in Dover for three years and she says they “hopefully can set down roots” in her adopted state, but that can be difficult in a military family. Originally from North Carolina, she grew up as an “army brat” moving around a lot as a child. Four years in England sparked a love of cooking.
“You miss the food you grew up around,” said Yi Lynne. “This inspired me to recreate comfort food with local ingredients and techniques wherever you travel.”
Chef Yi Lynne met Gordon Ramsey while in the UK when he and other British chefs were revolutionizing the cooking scene there and Ramsey was starring on the TV hit Master Chef.
“On our way back from England I heard that Master Chef was being picked up in the US and Gordon Ramsey was going to be the host,” she said. “I tried out for it, got on season two, got my apron and then got kicked off!”
Living in Florida at the time, her star turn in the world of celebrity chefs opened the door to several opportunities and she eventually opened a food truck (“the first one in the panhandle”) focusing on “global comfort food.”
Now, Chef Yi Lynne says she is most passionate about sharing her love of cooking with children and young people like the students at George Read Middle School.
“I love teaching and helping others learn about healthy and comforting foods.”