Calling all pint-sized Julia Childs!  They love to mix, pour, and measure.  But by the time they’re done, your kitchen looks less culinary and more chaos. Get the mess (and the heat) out of your kitchen and in to someone else’s, with Panera Bread’s new Bakers in Training Program.  They cook, they eat, you don’t clean.  Summer just got better.

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During each 90-minute class, kids will tour the Panera kitchens, learn about the tools of the trade, and try out a few easy recipes. They’ll prepare and bake their own French bread, then end the class with cookie-decorating tutorial. They can take home everything they make, including the mini chef hat and apron they used during class.

But it’s the hands on learning that is bound to be the real draw for kids. They can really get their hands dirty – measuring, mixing, kneading, frosting, decorating, scoring, and more. (And if any of those terms have you heading for your dictionary, you can listen in on the lesson!)

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Consider signing up for a class when you are looking for ways to beat the heat (and bust the boredom) this summer. All the locations are air-conditioned and have an unlimited supply of ice cold drinks. Plus free wifi for parents, so you can catch up on email or finally beat that last level of Candy Crush (yes, we know you still play it).  These classes are a great alternative for those weeks that you forgot to sign up for summer camp.

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How to Sign Up & Who Can Sign Up
Log on to PaneraBread.com, find the nearest location that offers classes (not all do, please see our list below of locations offering classes) and register for the class.  Spots fill up quickly, so you want to book three weeks in advance. (Need something sooner?  No worries.  If that time frame has already passed, call the store directly – they’ll try and accommodate you.) Classes are offered Monday – Thursday with start times between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Classes are for kids ages 5-10 and each class is $20.  At press time, classes are not drop in – you’ll need to schedule a class for a group of 10 kids or more, so round up the neighborhood kids, Girl Scout troop, kindergarten class or friends and book a session.

Good to know: Panera just announced that they are nixing all artificial additives. So, you can feel good about grabbing a bite there after class.

The following Panera locations offer cooking classes: Pico Rivera, Whittier, La Mirada, Lakewood, East Pasadena, City of Industry, La Cananda and Walnut.  For contact information and addressed, please check the website.

Online: panerabread.com

Do you bake with the kids?  What’s their favorite thing to cook?  Let us know!

-Christina Fiedler

Photo credit: Panera Bread