One of my first forays into the kitchen as a kid ended in disaster. Despite having Italian grandmothers who never left the kitchen, my best friend and I managed to confuse Coca-Cola for baking soda (in her defense, she called soft drinks "soda pop") and overload my mother's stand mixer to the point that it started smoking...and had to be replaced. But it's a priceless memory evoked every time I bite into a buttery sugar cookie (the end result of our baking escapades once my mother intervened and pulled out the hand mixer). So if you are looking to create one-of-a-kind culinary experiences for your kids while preserving your precious Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer, look no further.
Who better to teach your kids to cook than a mom whose 11-year-old figlia ("daughter" in Italian) has competed on the Food Network? "Chopped Junior" star Kate Daniel's passion for cooking was the inspiration for this kid-focused cooking school. In weekly classes, kids ages 6-18 learn essential cooking skills, including kitchen safety and presentation, in a fun and educational curriculum. Participants can even try their hand at competition cooking with Figlia's Chopped, Jr. workshops.
It should come as no surprise that cooking classes are offered at the food mecca that is Central Market. Tucked away on the second floor above the coffee bar and eating area is a small foodstuffs shop and teaching kitchen. Once a month during the school year, parents and their kids (ages 7 to 17) can don aprons together and whip up mainstays like pizza, pasta, or Chinese take-out. During the summer, more classes are offered to different age groups. Kids ages 5-8 might cook their way through yeast breads and baked goods, while 9-12-year-olds learn about cuisines around the world and how to temper chocolate. For the older ones ages 13 to 17, classes incorporate knife skills and more advanced techniques.
Photo courtesy of Figlia Kitchen
Tiziana's Cook2Learn Academy
Castagnole, crostata, baci di dama. Not only will your bambini learn to make these Italian dishes, but they might even pick up a few Italian words and phrases as well. Chef Tiziana hosts kids from 3-12 years old at the Italian hot spot Taverna, in River Oaks District. Parents can enjoy a plate of risotto, while the kids explore the different regions of Italy through food and even practice measuring using the metric system. Buon appetito!
Whether you're curious about the concept, or an avid advocate of the Montessori method, pop into Studio June for a parent-child class led by a Montessori-trained education professional. Their popular Bake with Me class is for children 18 months to 3 years old. Turn-taking and sharing are practiced as each child has the chance to contribute to a group snack with child-sized tools. While the snack bakes children explore the activities around the room, and then when the snack is ready, the kids set the table and enjoy their creation together. This class is offered in English and Spanish. For children ages 3-6-years-old, a pastry class is offered with a trained pastry chef. Kids can mix, measure, and knead their way through pate a choux and phyllo.
With culinary basic classes from UrbanCHEF, mom or dad can take a night off from cooking dinner and let the littles take over. The Little Chef's Baking Boot Camp for ages 6-9 is a week-long series covering fundamentals of the professional pastry kitchen. Kids will learn about basic baking ingredients, the art of measuring, stages of baking, types of batters and doughs and how to make frostings, fillings, and creams. A snack is offered at the end of each day, as well as a take-home treat. Kids Camp Basic Training for ages 9-11 covers a wide range of culinary techniques, cooking methods, and ingredients as kids prepare complete meals. At the conclusion of the day, students sit down to a lunch of their creation. Classes include basic knife skills, mise on place, sauces, soups, doughs, sautéing, braising, baking, curing and making preserves. Culinary Boot Camp for ages 11-16 is a more intensive, week-long culinary series. This course covers all the basics as well as some advanced techniques such as curing salmon and bacon, grinding flour, and making pickles, jams and kimchi. Kids will learn sautéing, roasting, poaching, braising, curing, fermentation, dehydrating, sauces, shellfish, fish, poultry, pie doughs, custards, fillings, sponge cakes, and chocolate. All classes are usually 2 hours.
White Plate Art
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. If that's true, then let your kiddos show it some love and show off the skills they learn at White Plate Art. In the combination baking, cooking, and art classes, children will learn how to safely handle food, chop, slice, chiffonade, whisk, sauté, measure, prepare mise en place, read recipes, appreciate healthy/unprocessed foods, and hopefully gain kitchen confidence! 4-day camps are offered during the week of spring break. Each day's class lasts 2-2.5 hours.
Top image courtesy of Cook2Learn Academy