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Mario Batali Designs Recipes for Food Bank Education

WILLIAMSBURG — Local families are learning to cook like celebrity chef Mario Batali, and they don't have to spend big or be culinary pros to mimic his style.

Three color salads, burritos and fresh fruit parfaits are a few of the Batali-created recipes that parents — and their children — are making in summer workshops called Community Cookshop NYC.

The interactive classes — held Thursday afternoons at Los Sures Community Center on South Fourth Street, and at other community centers around the city — are funded by the Mario Batali Foundation and organized by the Food Bank of New York City, and are designed to teach healthy, affordable cooking, said Jeannie Fournier, Director of the Food Bank's Nutrition and Health Education.

Batali, whose popular city dining spots include Chelsea's Eataly, the Italian restaurant Del Posto, and the Spanish tavern Casa Mono, designed creative takes on simple meals for the class.

And for mothers like Mala Basrat, 42, who cooks for her two young sons and husband each day, the sessions have been eye-opening to the possiblities for healthy foods.

"They're really good and healthy recipes," said Basrat, a Guyanese immigrant who took Cookshop's pilot course last summer in Queens and is taking another one this year with her 10-year-old son, Suraj.

Last year's Cookshop pilot reached 132 families, a spokeswoman from the program said, and this year the program has officially launched in sites around the city.

Basrat, who said her favorite recipes were a green bean salad and a parfait, noted that her son had also learned to cut vegetables and that he now had knowledge of nutrition in foods. Although many students in her group were on food stamps, Basrat said her family was not, and that they need only sign up for the class.

"This is really a working class neighborhood and a lot of parents don't know how affordable it is to make healthy food," she said of  Richmond Hill. "We need more classes like this."

Interested participants can email cookshop@foodbanknyc.org to learn about taking the workshop.