Truth: Big time memories that stick around for a lifetime are made when littles spend time in the kitchen. Kids love getting in there and learning the tricks of the trade — it’s like one big science experiment for them. Why not arm them with skills that’ll take their helper skills to the next level during this quality family time? Read on for our picks for classes that help kids build confidence and learn to just roll with it in the kitchen.
The Kids’ Table
Class details: Parents can sign kids up for weekly classes that run in a 4-week series, each exploring new tastes and techniques that involve the season’s favorite ingredients. From the Babies Can Cook series starting at 18 months old to the Kids Can Cook programming that takes them to age 10, kiddos will start with gaining an appreciation for good food by first smelling, touching and tasting as babies and walk out as big kids who have the confidence to work independently in the kitchen.
The whole gang can get in on the meal-time action with Family Dinners. Your crew will have hands-fun learning a new recipe and sitting down to enjoy a delicious and creative meal together.
Good to know: Everyone deserves a night out every once in a while, especially the munchkins! Kids Nite Out gives parents a little free time in the no-kid zone while the instructors at The Kids’ Table help your little ones make dinner and enjoy a post-food-coma activity like food-themed crafts, games or a movie. Kids have a day off school? Sign them up for a Day-Off Camp and they’ll stay busy cooking, eating and playing from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Weekly classes are $32/drop-in, $100/4-week series or $28.50/class with a 10-class pass. Family Dinners are $25/family member. Day-off camps are $90/day.
Locations: 2337 W. North Ave., Wicker Park; 2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
Online: kids-table.com, to explore all that The Kids’ Table has to offer
Oui Chef Chicago
Class details: Oui Chef’s owner, Laura Ragano, got her start teaching Pastry Chefs wannabes at The French Pastry School in Chicago. In March, she figured out a way to marry her professional life with her parenting life by creating a business that focuses on arming kids, ages 18 months to 18 years, with real culinary skills. Classes are broken into 2 groupings, one for ages 5 and under and the other for kindergarten and up. The classes for the littlest chefs focus on teaching adults helpful methods to get kids interested in cooking time and teaching students about food and food preparation. Older kids participate in a 75-minute weekly class with a core topic that rotates every 10-15 weeks. For example, in the Tools of the Trade series, a specific tool will be demonstrated and a delicious recipe will be prepared. The goal is to teach proper use of kitchen equipment that will result in a better final product and a safer cooking environment . . . skills they can take into adulthood.
For those who can’t make recurring classes work in their schedule, there are one-off opportunities for ages 2 to 5 on Tuesdays (10 a.m.-11 a.m.) and Fridays (1 p.m.-2 p.m.). These one-hour classes explore various culinary preparations and skills that span from the sweet to the savory. From salsa making to gingerbread house making, there’s something that’ll tickle the taste buds.
Good to know: Kids ages 5 and under participating in a class must be accompanied by an adult. Although they can’t guarantee that the ingredients used are prepared in nut-free facilities, Oui Chef is a nut-free environment and their core curriculum is also meat-free to ensure they are as inclusive as possible.
Cost: Kids can dabble in cooking classes by paying $28 for one-hour, one-off classes or pay $128/month for a 75-minute weekly class. Kids are encouraged to enroll in at least 2 months of classes to build confidence and skill in the kitchen.
Location: 2622 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park
Online: Find all this info and more at ouichefchicago.com
photo: Sur la Table Naperville via Christine S. on Yelp
Sur la Table
Class details: While Sur la Table definitely focuses on classes for the grownups, they give kids a fair shake at opportunities to wash-up and dig into the culinary scene. For instance on Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving, all 4 Chicagoland locations are offering a Kids Cook: Thanksgiving Leftovers class where kids ages 8 to 12 can learn creative uses for those delightful holiday leftovers by making turkey pot pies and sesame noodles with shredded turkey. Your days of eating boring leftover turkey sandwiches will be a thing of the past! As a bonus, while they’re having 2 hours of hands-on good-times, you can take advantage of Black Friday deals.
The Family Fun series is about getting kids ages 7 and up in the kitchen with their special adult. On December 24, the focus is on hand-made pasta. Before you take them home to let visions of sugar plums dance in their heads, busy them with learning to make fresh pasta from scratch.
Good to know: Whenever a big holiday rolls around, be sure to check their online calendar for classes. They’re almost always hosting something special for the kids that coordinates with the day, like cupcake making or gingerbread building.
Cost: The Family Fun: Homemade Pasta and Kids Cook: Thanksgiving Leftover classes are $49.
Locations: 900 N. Michigan Ave., Mag Mile; 55 S. Main St., Naperville; 2160 Northbrook Court, Northbrook; 4999 Old Orchard Center, Ste. L12, Skokie
Online: For the nitty-gritty details visit surlatable.com
Class details: This is another one that caters to the adults, but sneaks in a class or two for the littles every now and again. Leading up to Thanksgiving on November 20, kids ages 3 to 7 can register for Tater Tots: Pumpkin Palooza to make homemade pumpkin ravioli with sage cream sauce and pumpkin-raisin squares with cream cheese frosting. Drool! Parents are asked to hang back with the kids to help complete the recipes. For a true family affair, you can take the whole gang (ages 6 and up) on November 26 for a Family Night: Pasta Party where you’ll make homemade fettuccine with alfredo sauce. This is just a small sampling of what the next month has to offer. Be sure to check their calendar for other opportunities.
Good to know: Looking for a unique birthday party idea? Search no more! For $50 per person, The Chopping Block will host your 2- to 2.5-hour gig for kids ages 6 to 16. During that block of time, your group will make a meal together while learning about ingredients, kitchen safety and organization.
Cost: Classes vary by class, but as a guide, the Tater Tots: Pumpkin Palooza is $20 per student and the Family Night: Pasta Party is $50. Host a party for $50/person.
Locations: The Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 107, River North; 4747 N Lincoln, Lincoln Square
Online: Learn more at thechoppingblock.com
What’s your favorite cooking class for kids? We’d love to hear in the Comments below!
— Maria Chambers