The kitchen can be a scary place, and cooking can be a nightmare.
At least, those are the beliefs that Trenton Campbell found in many of his members at CrossFit Ballwin, which wasn’t encouraging.
“You need to eat healthy,” said Campbell. “Fitness is 30 percent working out and 70 percent nutrition.”
After finishing his time in the service in Afghanistan, in 2013 Campbell opened his Box in Ballwin, Missouri. When he realized that many of the people around him were struggling with nutrition, he decided to do something.
It began as the CFB Health Series, but was recently rebranded under a new name, Elemental Cookhouse. Broken into two-hour sessions, the topics varied from knife skills to learning herbs and spices. “We actually step into the kitchen and show them how to do it,” said Campbell.
When first brainstorming the idea of Elemental Cookhouse, Campbell made his way to one of the biggest culinary institutes in the Midwest. There, he sat down with the director and executive chef Darren Zesch, who has had over 20 years of experience in the field.
Campbell explained that Zesch was immediately interested, becoming a partner in Elemental Cookhouse, as well as the teacher for the classes. But Campbell said even if a Box can’t get an executive chef for its own cooking series, that doesn’t mean you have to pass up the opportunity. “Create a curriculum that you can teach your people,” said Campbell.
The critical thing about these classes is educating attendees to not be afraid of making mistakes. Campbell also wants to show people not only how to spice up their food — he doesn’t want anyone getting stuck on bland food — but how to save money and save time.
“What an experienced chef can make in 30 minutes might take an inexperienced person an hour and a half,” said Campbell. “You need to maximize the efficiency of what you can do.”
Elemental Cookhouse has big plans for the future. Not only is Campbell working on a new session where participants can go shopping with the chef — teaching them what to look for and how to pick the best one of various items — but Elemental Cookhouse will be moved out of CrossFit Ballwin, becoming its own entity. Eventually, Campbell looks to franchise it.
“I’m filling a gap,” he said.
When asked about advice he would give to other Boxes looking to start up their own health series, Campbell gave one simple tip. “Don’t over complicate things,” he said. “Teach the basics.”