Student cooks up project for a cause

Patrick Minassians’ interest in food and nutrition started organically. Last summer, the 13-year-old, who attends Flintridge Preparatory School in La Cañada Flintridge, began leafing through cookbooks at his Glendale home, selecting dinner recipes for his family. Soon he joined his mother Mary Minassians in the kitchen.

“His palette just opened up, and that is when he became interested in what I am cooking,” she said.

Now, the eighth-grader has a published cookbook, all 80 pages of it supporting the homeless.

In October, members of the Flintridge Prep eighth-grade class were tasked with developing a project that would benefit the larger community. Patrick decided to marry his love of cooking with his concern for the local homeless population.

“Our teacher assigned us this project,” Patrick said. “She told us to come up with a way to impact the community and so I thought of different ways to incorporate cooking or food into my project. I came up with creating a cookbook.”

He set about producing the book, starting with soliciting input from the families of classmates.

“I said, ‘Patrick, just have a timeline and hit it,’” Mary Minassians said. “And he did.”

He eventually collected about 50 recipes and organized them into sections, including appetizers, main meals and desserts. Patrick found an online publishing service that allowed him to self-publish 100 copies. The final product was an 80-page book titled “Just Cook for Just Cause.”

But his work didn’t stop there. The young chef and author also assumed the role of salesman, pitching the book to family members, friends and classmates. The first edition sold out, generating $2,000 in revenue. Last month, Patrick and eight friends used the money to buy groceries and cook a meal for several dozen residents at the Family Center at Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena.

“Patrick is a standout and his project is unique,” said Rabbi Marvin Gross, the chief executive at Union Station. “He has attracted a lot of support and affection from us at Union Station. We have never had anyone so young as Patrick assemble a cookbook and publish it. It is really quite an undertaking by him.”

After serving his meal, the student distributed a satisfaction survey among the guests, Gross said. The feedback was unanimous — Patrick and his food was a hit.

The assignment, and the cookbook, is a testament to the values being taught at Flintridge Prep, Gross said.

“He could have sold it and said, ‘Thank you, I am going to keep the money,’” Gross said. “But he did it with the purpose of trying to help Union Station. We were thrilled to be the recipients.”

“Just Cook for Just Cause” is available for purchase at

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