– By Nancy SolomonAs the days get colder, the warmth of the kitchen is more alluring. Something about all that cold air creates the perfect atmosphere for stirring it up in the kitchen. When my kids were younger, they loved helping me cook and especially getting messy, now as some of them are older, they really appreciate the art of cooking, mostly the end result. Also, it is a long winter here in New England and cultural exploration through food helps break up the monotony of the winter months. Food provides a wonderful window into other cultures. This is clearly a popular theme, as many cooking classes focus on global foods.
With the increased popularity of food shows, like Cake Boss and Top Chef, kids are being inspiration to find their inner epicurean. Additionally, children are being recognized as a valuable target market, so the options for cooking classes have increased significantly. There are different types of classes to choose from including: single classes (usually focused on one food type), series (more skill based) and parent/child classes (normally more complicated foods).
This past spring, I took a six-week adult cooking class with my friends at Cambridge Culinary School. I can’t believe how much I learned and the significant impact on my day-to-day cooking. I wish I had done it sooner! Given that cooking is a daily requirement, it should be fun, worthwhile and hopefully, a family event. For parents, this is a win-win, classes help children understand what is going into their food and help them be more aware of nutrition. Here are some of the classes available in the Boston area.
Younger Kids (Ages 3-7)
My kids love these fun-focused classes and have been to many parties hosted by this group. They embrace younger children (starting at age 3), as well as, older ones. Their classes include Culinary Globetrotting, Parent/Kid Sushi Making, Cake Making, Comfort Food Makeover (love the healthy twist), Teens Bake Like Julia Childs, and Seasonal Cooking.
Right in the heart of Back Bay, this great adult education program created a fun selection of classes just for kids, “Bean City Kids.” My favorite option is the cooking around the world for kids 3-6 years old. Also, they feature monthly celebrity chefs, where they bring in “Hell’s Kitchen” veterans, like Andy Husbands and Jason Santos.
SCHOOL AGE (Ages 8-12)
In addition to their adult classes, they offer Kids (8-12) and Teen (13-17) classes. The kids’ classes primarily focus on sweets, but there is a pasta making class and some great parent/child classes, like Mexican Fiesta Night. When the kids are on summer vacation or school break, they will keep them busy and well fed with their vacation classes- what a bonus!
Head towards the suburbs and you get lovely classes set in a private home. Whether in her class or private party format, Chef Rebecca Scheier teaches excellent skills. We had a great time here whipping up both hard and easy dishes, creating a wonderful evening, lots of fun learning and delicious food. What I love about her kid offerings (ages 9 & up) is that they teach real food preparation in either consecutive days or weeks. That way the kids walk away with solidified skills. Class topics include Italian Cooking, Vegetables, Sauces, etc. Note: She offers kids’ classes during the private school March vacation, in addition to public school vacation classes.
This place is the real deal. Think Julia child reborn in the owner, Roberta Dowling. There are no substitutions here, no non-fat yogurt, no rice milk, we are talking butter, cream and white aprons! They are a real culinary school, but also offer a “recreational program.” I love their tagline, “Feed your mind. Feed your body. Feed your soul.” Teen classes are only available during the summer months.
Nancy Solomon is an avid traveler and writer for the popular family travel guide CiaoBambino.com. She lives outside Boston with her husband and four children ages (12-4) with whom she enjoys sharing the world.