7 Cooking Classes For Kids That Inspire Curiosity And A Spirit Of Adventure – Chicago Tribune | Directory Mayhem

Do you wish your child would try spinach or quinoa? The secret recipe to making meals fun and healthy for the whole family might require going back to school. Not the kind with quizzes and boards, but cooking schools aimed at kids. Not only can it spice up summer vacations, but after a few hours, your child could be aspiring to be the next celebrity chef. Here are a few tasty options.

Sur La table

This upscale culinary business has more than 100 locations nationwide, including several in the Chicago area. In the state-of-the-art show kitchens, children feel like professional chefs. Week-long summer camps include Confident Cooking, where teens and younger children learn basic knife skills and learn how to prepare everything from pizza and pasta dough to soups and casseroles. Summer camps meet for two hours daily, and children are in either the 8-12 year old or 13-17 year old session. Just beware, it can be difficult to make it out of the store without being tempted by a new kitchen gadget! www.surlatable.com

Oh boss

“Don’t over-mix or you’ll end up with tough cookies,” advises classically trained chef Laura Ragano to her young students, who use giant mixers to perfect chocolate chip cookies. Once the cookies are baked, Ragano pulls out her iPad and gives the kids a lesson on how chocolate is made and the history of cocoa. Each class includes a 10-minute in-depth dive into the ingredients of the day. After teaching at the French Pastry School in Chicago for a decade, Ragano took a few years off to become a housewife. In March, she returned to business and opened Oui Chef in Lincoln Park, which serves children ages 18 months to 18 years. Cooking class for an 18 month old? “Believe it or not, these are some of the most popular classes,” says Ragano. The stroller set is all about discovering tastes and experimenting with touching different foods. With the help of their caregiver, toddlers participate by rolling out dough and mashing potatoes. 2622 N. Halsted Street, Chicago; www.ouichefchicago.com; 773-799-8451

The children’s table

While learning cooking basics like chopping and dicing, kids at the week-long summer camp are enticed to try new foods through fun activities like field trips to farmers markets, bakeries and community gardens. The culinary adventure continues at The Kids’ Table locations in Wicker Park and Lakeview, where participants prepare recipes from farm to fork. “We’ve heard from so many parents that attending these classes has changed their children’s attitudes about eating at home,” says Registered Dietitian Liz Sommer, Instructor and Manager of The Kids’ Table in Lakeview. “They are more willing to try new things and to replicate at home the recipes they made in class.” Summer camps and classes for ages 5 to 11 are limited to 15 children. Tuition for infants 18 months and older is limited to six children. For weekend family dinners, kids can join their parents or grandparents for cooking classes ($25/family member). Another fun offering is Teens Nite Out ($45/class): Teens and tweens come to learn cooking skills, cook a meal, and hang out. 2337 W. North Avenue, Chicago; www.kids-table.com; 773-235-2665

Delicious

One block off Michigan Avenue, on the second floor of celebrity chef Mario Batali’s 63,000-square-foot Italian shopping and dining mall, lies a foodie’s fantasy. Students pull a stool into the stylish open-plan kitchen for classes ranging from pasta-making to pro tips on that kids’ favorite – pizza. Children accompanied by an adult can take adult classes, which often include wine for the adults. 43 E. Ohio St., Chicago; www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/chicago/; 312-521-8700

give me some sugar

Do you have a budding baker? They can learn to decorate cakes, make Danish pastries and donuts from scratch, or melt macaroons at this adorable shop in Chicago’s Roscoe Village. Children 2 years and older will enjoy the cupcake decorating class. Don’t expect them to learn any fancy techniques; Just be glad you don’t pick sprinkles off the floor and don’t frost the walls! Children from the age of 8 can acquire real baking skills in the summer baking camp. 2205 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago; www.givesugar.com; 773-281-3154

The chopping block

Right by the fountain in the heart of Lincoln Square is one of the neighborhood’s most popular shops. Long a favorite spot for Chicago foodies, this cute culinary shop began offering summer camps for kids in 2003. Class size is limited to 12 for the 7-11 year olds and 16 for the teens. Teens wanting more can sign up for Teen Boot Camp, also offered at the Merchandise Mart location, where they learn about braising, butchering, poaching, making sauces and cooking fish. Sounds like they have all the ingredients needed to take over the family meals. 4747 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago; www.thechoppingblock.com; 773-472-6700

Taste Bud Kitchen

So your kid has a craving for sushi, but you don’t know where to start? Taste Buds Kitchen is a national franchise that just opened its first Illinois location in the North Shore suburb of Bannockburn. Kids ages 2 and up get step-by-step instructions on these intimidating international recipes, as well as fun twists on classic home cooking like Mole Chili – made during Chocolate Lovers Camp. One-hour courses are offered year-round and three-hour summer camps are offered in the morning for 4-8 year olds and in the afternoon for 9-13 year olds. 2521 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn; www.tastebudskitchen.com/bannockburn; 847-230-0330

Andrea Guthmann is a freelance author.

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