The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
If your young chef loves to assist with meal prep, consider signing them up for a children’s cooking class at one of these amazing New Jersey locations. Cooking classes for kids do more than teach the basics about mixing, baking and measuring. They also offer valuable lessons about teamwork, creative thinking, patience and the importance of healthy eating.
We’ve rounded up the best cooking classes around the state–read on to find the perfect one for the child in your life!
Classic Thyme Cooking School
Address: 710 South Avenue West, Westfield
Details: Chef David Martone and his staff have years of experience teaching children how to make everything from breads to pastas and chocolates. Class offerings include Mommy & Me, Cookie Workshops and Cake Decorating. Sign up online for one-day classes or extended series, as well as more intensive sessions (mostly for teenagers). Additionally, teen volunteers and college students help guide the children, serving as role models to them as they learn cooking skills. “I had one mom ‘yell’ at me and say, ‘because of you, my kid asked me to buy kale!’” laughs Chef David. “I just love hearing stories like that.”’
Why I like it: For little ones, Classic Thyme offers “Mommy and Me” style classes. Kids ages 2 and older participate with their caregiver to concoct a yummy creation.
More info: www.classicthyme.com or call 908-232-5445
Healthy Hands Cooking
Address: Various locations
Details: Healthy Hands Cooking is a nationwide movement to combat childhood obesity by certifying and empowering adults to teach kids ages 2-13 about topics such as nutrition and healthy cooking through fun classes, camps and birthday parties. New Jersey mother Liliana Bussin of LillySprouts is a certified Healthy Hands Cooking Instructor–her children’s severe food allergies inspired her to educate and teach other children about healthy eating. “Everything we cook, from sweet potato cupcakes to veggie casseroles, has a vegetable or fruit in it,” says Bussin. “It’s all about healthy eating and healthy choices with a holistic approach.” It’s very common for Bussin to teach cooking for two hours, then lead a yoga session with the kids. “Kids are also taught how to read and understand food labels.” Mostly based in Springfield, she also works in Berkeley Heights, Scotch Plains and Westfield.
Why I like it: Kids will gain confidence in the kitchen as they learn which foods fuel their body and how to make them taste delicious!
More info: www.healthyhandscooking.com or call 908-499-0270
Address: 211 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Cherry Hill
Details: Known as “South Jersey’s place for edible art,” Sugarplum Studio is the brainchild of owner Sharon Spatucci. An experienced baker, Sharon shares her love of creating cakes and cupcakes while giving kids a fun experience as they create their own concoctions. Sign up for private lessons or attend a workshop, where you come empty-handed but leave with a beautifully-crafted dessert. Check out the Sunday morning alphabet-themed sessions, like “L is for Lion” or “M is for Monkey.” Kids will learn about the letter of the day and leave with two animal-themed cupcakes. Make sure you pre-register on the website, because these classes frequently sell out!
Why I like it: At $9.95 for a 45-minute workshop, this cooking class is affordable and fun.
More info: Visit www.sugarplumstudio.com or call 856-354-8700
Address: 42 Liberty Corner Road, Warren
Details: Kids learn to make easy and delicious dishes during P.E.P. Club’s one-hour classes, held Mondays and Wednesdays. Chefs and staffers review kitchen safety and cleanliness while introducing math skills through measuring. Each child has total participation in creating the day’s recipes, includes measuring, pouring, egg cracking, mixing, kneading, rolling, frosting and decorating. Kids are given aprons to wear and will also learn about kitchen safety and the importance of clean up. Instructors keep it fun–they’ll jazz up the lessons by comparing sugar to a snow-covered mountain or crafting a Halloween skeleton made from veggies. Popular recipes include ravioli, waffles, pigs-in-a-blanket, pancakes, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
Why I like it: A twelve-week program of Kid Cuisine classes is just $225 and your child will make everything from cinnamon French toast to lasagna to mini pumpkin pies.
More info: www.pep-club.info or call 908-451-9280
Ridgewood Culinary Studio
Address: 223 Chestnut Street, Ridgewood
Details: This year-round, 600-square-foot cooking studio is owned and operated by longtime friends Nanci Gregory and Jo Marie Quinn, who have studied the art of cooking all over the world. Ridgewood Culinary Studio offers a variety of summer and fall cooking classes for kids, as well as walk-in sessions. According to Gregory, all classes are extremely hands-on. Children are taught to cook or bake, from soup to nuts, and are even given special children’s knives to work with. Kids will also learn about the importance of food safety. This includes lessons such as how to wash food, pantry basics, the operation of a professional kitchen and more.
Why I like it: The studio also offers children’s birthday parties where each guest gets to decorate pre-made cakes or cupcakes, with party host, custom invites, place setting, balloons, food and beverages all included in the party cost.
More info: www.ridgewoodculinarystudio.com or call 201-447-2665
ShopRite’s Culinary Workshop
Address: Various locations
Details: ShopRite notably offers cooking workshops for kids at approximately 44 store locations. With a focus on health and wellness, their chefs work with dietitians to host in-store classes and demos. Children learn about new foods and nutrition concepts as well as cooking techniques. They’ll also receive practical information they can use to make more meals at home with their families. As part of the company’s Family Meals campaign, 120 dietitians are available in stores to help customers with meal planning and healthy food shopping, at no charge to shoppers. Visit your local ShopRite’s courtesy counter to view available workshops and register.
Why I like it: You get to do your food shopping alone (kid-free!) at ShopRite after dropping your child off at the workshop. How convenient!
More info: www.shoprite.com/culinary-workshop
Taste & Technique Cooking Studio
Address: 597 River Road, Fair Haven
Details: Operated by chef Carolyn Rue, Taste & Technique offers many hands-on cooking classes for kids. Some popular ones include holiday-themed sessions such as the Gingerbread House-making workshop. (They even offer a “Cooking 101” option for college students who need to know the basics!) At the conclusion of each class, children taste the dishes created and are then sent home with a recipe packet. Upcoming sessions for kids include Fall On Over, a handful of fall-inspired dishes like pumpkin pie smoothies and a cheeseburger casserole, as well as Tricks n Treats, spooky Halloween-themed recipes. Older children (10 & up) love the Supper Club workshops where they’re split into groups and asked to whip up something tasty using the items given to them in a “mystery basket.”
Why I like it: I love the idea of a Friday night activity for kids that doesn’t involve video games or television shows. Instead, they create and share a meal together with friends.
More info: www.tasteandtechnique.com or call 732-741-2665
Young Chefs Academy
Address: 712 Ginesi Drive, Morganville
Details: Recently featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Young Chefs Academy (YCA) offers cooking classes to children in a safe environment that encourages discovery as well as creativity. Recipes are specially created by professional YCA chefs for kids of all ages. Besides food preparation skills, classes also explore kitchen safety, etiquette and table settings. Through hands-on participation, children use food and cooking techniques to build practical life-skills knowledge and boost their culinary confidence. The popular and well-received Young Chefs Academy offers three types of weekly cooking classes for kids. Choose from Kindercooks (3-5 years old), Junior Chefs (7-11 years old) or Senior Chefs (12 & up). Your child can also try a one-day, drop-in cooking class. Current family workshops include Back-to-School Bake Sale as well as Here Comes Halloween.
Why I like it: Kids who are serious about cooking can enroll in the MasterChef Program. They’ll earn badges on their way to becoming a Young Chefs Academy certified MasterChef.
More info: www.marlboronj.youngchefsacademy.com or call 732-536-7777