Cooking is the new soccer

A new school year means a whole new spectrum of activities to get involved in. How about cooking classes? Whether your child is an aspiring chef or just loves to eat and socialize, cooking class is a great way to teach kids the fundamentals of cooking, the deliciousness of nutrition, and the art of it all. Here we explore some of the cooking classes out there you can sign up for… and the one that just might come to you!

Where can you sign up your child for cooking classes?

Cooking classes for kids are offered across BC at a variety of places, including cooking shops like the Cookshop, community centres like Kits Community Centre and private cooking schools like The Dizzy Whisk. All of these forums offer classes taught by local chefs who typically take a professional and artful approach to teaching about the fundamentals of cooking. Depending on the class, most cover kitchen safety, basic knife handling skills, nutrition, and teach a variety of recipes and cuisines that utilize a broad cross-section of cooking skills.

Says Chef Mark Halyk of Catered Art who teaches programs throughout the year at the Kits Community Centre, “Kids can be great cooks. My approach is to treat the children like adults in my classes. In fact, most kids can actually do most of the things adults can do in the kitchen, it may just take them a bit longer. Sometimes, the kids are even better at it; for example, they’re often faster and more nimble at making phyllo triangles than adults are! I find that many parents are afraid to let their kids cook; some come in having never even cracked an egg.”

But not to worry if that sounds like your child, because no skills are required for cooking classes for kids. Among the many benefits of learning to cook, Chef Halyk says one key benefit is that children are often far more willing and eager to try new things if they’ve cooked it themselves, “They learn they like things they didn’t think they would like—such as dishes with spinach and with asparagus!” As an added bonus, Halyk says that cooking classes can serve to demystify food and cooking, by explaining where food comes from, and showing kids how to cook with ingredients that are in season. Who wouldn’t want a little chef around the house whipping up some delicious meals? 

Just take a look at the curriculum covered at the Cookshop’s Tuscan Class for Kids. Yum. *Cannellini al Forno- creamy cannellini beans in truffle cream sauce served with melted gorgonzola on garlic foccacia bread *Pollo Ripieno-Chicken breast stuffed with fig and ricotta cheese, balsamic port wine sauce *Chocolate espresso semifreddo. Need we say more?

The cooking class that might come to you

Many schools throughout the Lower Mainland are competing for the attention of a mobile program called Project CHEF, a curriculum-based cooking school that has—so far—visited thousands of students in classrooms and gymnasiums in Vancouver. This innovative program immerses children in the process of cooking, from preparation to clean-up, teaching kids about food, the joy of creating meals for themselves and the skills needed to apply their new-found abilities at home.

Says Project CHEF Founder, Barbara Finley, a former teacher with formal chef’s training, “I launched Project CHEF in order to share my love of good food with kids. Part of my motivation came from seeing, as a teacher, what the kids were eating. Honestly, I really wanted to help them do better. This program teaches kids about food and shows kids that healthy is delicious. Overall, we teach kids how to have a really good relationship with really good food!” So important.

Barb raises all the funding for Project CHEF herself through foundations and societies. She selects approximately 15-20 schools each year to receive this program, and welcomes any school in the Lower Mainland to submit a proposal to her. Visit www.projectchef.ca for more info.

Cooking class is a great way to teach kids about the value of food in our lives. We’d love to hear about your experiences with cooking classes and kids. Share your insights with our FB community here. Of course, children learn most about cooking and nutrition in their at-home daily lives, but everyone needs a dose of inspiration once in a while! So, this week, we’re giving away a copy of Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters to one of our Facebook friends :)

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