By Ariane Fleishmann
We all have one: that friend who posts pictures of every meal on Instagram; who hosts immaculate dinner parties and amps up the carefully curated cheese board with homemade sourdough and prosciutto cured in their own garage; who frequently visits farmer’s markets or forages for fiddleheads. They’re a foodie.
But whoever said foodies were exclusively adults? With the ubiquity of cooking shows, YouTube tutorials, and wherever else kids get their information these days, Gen Z is ready to make something delicious. And what responsible parent wants to ignore their child’s desire to be in the kitchen? (So long as they learn to clean, anyways.)
Indulge your kid with one of these top-notch cooking classes whether you live in BC or are just visiting; after all, the best way to experience regional cuisine is to make it yourself. Your kids will learn to appreciate different kinds of food and take home some serious life skills too. And, hey, while the kids are in class, maybe you can sneak off to enjoy some nosh or visit a local brewery.
Designed with young chefs in mind, the summer food camps at the Dirty Apron teach kids about food and how to best prepare it. Using fresh, local ingredients, the chefs show participants how to use BC’s bounty to create dishes from around the world like Filipino chicken adobo, French potato rosti, or Mexican soft shell tacos—from scratch! The Dirty Apron is owned by husband-and-wife team Chef David and Sara Robertson, who, with their team, average over 10,000 students a year. They’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers, growers and suppliers, and pass all that knowledge and experience down to their students, whether youth or adult.
Although the cooking classes at Nourish Café are currently on hold, they’re worth making a note of for when they resume programming. With a philosophy of teaching kids to cook so they’ll eat better, the youth classes at Nourish are a great way to subtly nudge kids towards healthier eating habits. Participants learn all about food facts but still have plenty of fun with hands-on cooking and silly games. Camps feature recipes inspired by world cultures, including Italian, Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, and French cuisine. No matter the inspiration, at Nourish Café the chefs always keep Michael Pollan’s words in mind: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They believe in using whole, organic foods and use a plant-based approach. They also support local farms and use seasonal ingredients, passing along knowledge about BC’s seasonal harvest to their budding chefs.
Suitable for kids 8-13
Kids in the Posh kitchen learn how to bake and cook classic Western dishes, like mac and cheese, pizza balls, and cupcakes. In other workshops, they’ll get a taste of Mexico with enchiladas and churros, or Spain with delicious, fresh paella. They’ll learn how to mix and measure, incorporate ingredients, and how to be safe in the kitchen. The schedule for summer workshops is on the way, but they routinely host weekend birthday parties for culinary-minded kids. And with Posh Pantry taking care of everything from aprons to clean up, there’s no need to worry about any messes up the kitchen afterwards.
This non-profit organization is dedicated to the development and cultivation of school garden programs. Founder Barb Koyanagi McMahon teaches not only about kitchen safety, cooking techniques and food preparation, but also about the environmental impacts of choosing local, seasonal ingredients, how healthy food promotes health and wellness, and how to start your own garden. In her summer programs, McMahon incorporates all this and more—like physical activity through foraging, arts and crafts, and team building. All of the recipes are centred on what kids can do at home, with and for their families. Your kid will be doing meal prep in no time!
Vancouver’s North Shore
Being able to cook a delicious meal from scratch is an essential life skill according to Well Fed (they’re right!) and they teach kids the hands-on technical skills they’ll need to succeed in the kitchen. But perhaps more importantly, they teach kids how to experiment with food to foster a life-long love of cooking. Recipes used in their cooking camps are well-balanced and use whole foods. Well Fed follows what they like to call the lifestyle eating or 80/20 rule: 80 percent of their meals focus on health, using lean proteins and nutrient-rich vegetables. But that other 20 percent is all about decadence. With summer camps offered most weeks in July and August, you have the flexibility to make the most of your time.
Another fantastic cooking workshop that’s currently on hold, but plans to reopen soon, so we thought we’d include it in the meantime! Well Seasoned offers a variety of one- to three-day camps where kids and teens get hands-on experience with cooking. From breakfast and baking, to Japanese, Greek and Thai, to Western-style Sunday dinners and vegetarian feasts, there’s something for every type of taste. Working with Chef Helena, participants will leave these two-and-a-half-hour sessions with plenty of new recipes under their belts. And as a bonus, the Well Seasoned store carries plenty of gourmet condiments, sauces and snacks, so if you want to bring home flavours from a class, you’re in the right place.
Little Kitchen Academy
Vancouver, Surrey, North Shore, Richmond
With locations across Canada and the US, Little Kitchen Academy has quickly become a renowned name in showing kids their way around the kitchen. When students enroll at any LKA branch in the Lower Mainland, they’ll be invited into a program that has boosted the confidence and independence of thousands of kids. Subscribing to a Montessori approach, co-founder/culinary director Felicity Curin and her team create an environment that encourages experimentation and curiosity. That’s where some of the best recipes come from after all! Classes cater to kids as young as three and go up to teens, with each session structured into groups close in age. It’s a fantastic way to encourage young ones into getting their hands dirty (as if they need help), and give young adults room to build on what they already know.
Little Kitchen Academy
3744 W 10th Ave, Vancouver
15355 24 Avenue, Surrey
15230 Hwy 10, Surrey
3018 Edgemont Boulevard, North Vancouver
6699 River Road, Richmond
Suitable for kids 7-16