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Rosie Daley, Oprah Winfrey’s former chef, gets students, from right, Kendall Yee, Holly Weis and Dillan Yee, set up to make their own pizzas at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach. Photos by Bianca Kaplanek
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Oprah’s former chef gets cooking with local children

SOLANA BEACH — With an emphasis on fun, Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef is teaching practical cooking skills to area youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach. 

The goal of the four-week course, which also includes arts and crafts, is to inspire creativity in the kitchen and develop good eating habits using locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. “It’s not too fancy,” Rosie Daley said. “There are a lot of preconceived notions about cooking. But I try to be cool and casual about cooking. I make it simple and practical so they can enjoy the process.

“It’s something they can do with friends because everybody has to eat,” she added. “So I tell them to just get in there and do it. I teach them to pick the best ingredients and eat in season.” She said the classes also offer parents activities they can do with their children.

During the June 21 Around the World session, the menu included make-your-own pizza, sushi and pie. To get the seven students — all girls — used to working dough with their hands, Daley started the class by having them play with clay. Once in the kitchen they learned about different spices and their origins and created seasoning packets that included an Italian blend for their pizzas.

As they rolled out the pizza crusts, Daley explained all the different toppings that were available, including fresh vegetables and pesto.

When the topic turned to the pies they would make later, some girls said they wanted pumpkin. But Daley said it wasn’t an option because the squash-like fruit was not in season, so they had a choice of blueberry or apple.The class also featured lessons in napkin folding and making napkin rings.

Previous sessions included Eat a Rainbow of Colors, which featured brightly colored foods to excite the eyes as well as the palate. Students made tostadas, decorated aprons and learned about food preparation and assembly.The final Go Green session featured vegetarian dishes, personalized granola, tie-dyeing scarves and hula-hooping for “fun and smiles.”

Daley learned her way around a kitchen as one of 13 children growing up in New Jersey. She worked in produce stores, health-oriented cafés and restaurants until landing the job as head chef at Cal-A-Vie Health Spa in Vista. It was there where she met Winfrey in the late 1980s.

The producer and actress was so impressed with Daley she invited her to be her personal chef. Daley held the position for five years, then went on to author two books, “In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes” and “The Healthy Kitchen.”The Encinitas resident said she has also done catering and now enjoys teaching classes and creating art such as mobiles made with found objects.

“As an artist I use the creative process in the kitchen,” she said. “The whole point is to use your imagination and create in the kitchen. It’s all about having a great time and messing things up.”

Daley’s series ended June 28. Other cooking and healthy living classes continue at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle. Visit