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 who ever 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.
Celebrity chef Vikram Vij leads a culinary arts workshop for teens ages 15-19 in his Surrey restaurant, My Shanti. Over the course of this three-hour journey into Indian cooking, youth learn about how to prepare food, what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry, and some super handy kitchen skills. Speaking about his journey from India to Vancouver, Vij shares stories from early in his career, reminding young chefs that everyone starts somewhere and that mistakes are part of the game. Workshops are limited. Check with Arts Umbrella for upcoming dates.
Designed with young chefs in mind, 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, teach over 10,000 students every year. They’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers, growers and suppliers, knowledge they pass down to every students, youth or adult.
Nourish Café believes that kids who know how to cook know how to eat better, and they might be on to something there. At their five-day summer camps, participants learn all about food facts but still have plenty of fun with hands-on cooking and silly games. Camps include 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.
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. These one-off workshops are perfect for a family that’s in town for just a short while, but summer camps are also available. Posh Pantry provides everything, including aprons, so there’s no need to worry about messes!
Vancouver/Vancouver’s North Shore
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. At her five-day summer camps, McMahon incorporates all this and more—like physical activity through foraging, arts and crafts, and team building. All of the recipes are centered on what kids can do at home, with and for their families. Your kid will be doing meal prep in no time!
Vancouver camp: True Nosh Studios, 2200 Ontario St., Vancouver
North Vancouver camp: Camp Capilano with Fireside Adventures, Capilano Park Rd., North Vancouver
Suitable for kids 7+
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 important is that they teach kids how to experiment with food to foster a life-long love of cooking. Recipes used in their five-day 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.
Looking for a short foodie workshop or camp? Well Seasoned offers a variety of one- to three-day camps where kids and teens get hands-on with their cooking. From breakfast and breads, to Japanese, Greek and Thai, to Western-style Sunday dinners and vegetarian feasts, there’s something for everyone. Working with Chef Helena, participants will leave these two-and-a-half hour sessions with plenty of new recipes under their belts. And 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.