Sacha Quernheim is a personal chef and APPCA member in St. Louis. She runs Red Zucchini Personal Chef Service. We featured her in a post back in October. When we learned she teaches kids’ cooking classes we asked her to write a guest post for us to talk about how she does it. Sacha has some great tips plus a couple of recipes. 

Big Bird Fruit

I held kids’ classes for about two years.  It started out with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and grew over the two years. I started them because I noticed that a lot of my daughter’s friends did not know what fresh food was. I actually had one of my daughter’s friends ask me if a red sweet pepper was real because she had never had one!  

I had about eight to 12 kids in a class at a time. We had classes every Monday night at my home.  The way we would do them would be that I would come up with a menu that has a theme. For example I would do movie night and do popcorn w/chili and cinnamon and a few other menu items that go with that theme. I would have stations set up before the kids arrived with all the ingredients, and equipment to make the dishes. I wrote the recipes for the classes and had them ready for the kids. They would pair up into teams to make each dish. I would then go around and just help them and give them pointers. Some of the kids were in the class for the whole two years. Those kids would tell me that they were cooking at home with and for their parents.  They weren’t afraid of cooking and they were trying new things. 

I would always try to make the recipes with some techniques to teach them. For example, I would have them make something with basil so I could show them how to do a chiffonade. I also made sure that it was something healthy that maybe they don’t usually eat or cook at home. We did homemade ranch dressing with a fresh salad and just things that were very healthy, made from scratch and things they could do at home as well.

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I had a child with autism in my classes as well. He actually loved the class!  He really enjoyed cooking and sometimes he could not do it as fast as the others but he always tried his best. Also, as the classes progressed and got more involved, the other kids were more relaxed and didn’t need as much help from me so I was able to help him with his dishes and the other kids would help him as well. It really was a benefit for all of us to have him in our class and hopefully anyone that holds cooking classes would welcome anyone with disabilities because it really does enrich your life to work with sweet kids such as the little boy I had in my class with autism. Here are a few tips for running kids cooking classes based on what I learned and experienced:

1.  Be prepared,  I found that having all ingredients set out at each station and all equipment makes that little ones more at ease and makes the class go smoother.

2. It does not have to be perfect. The kids will learn and get the experience just by doing it. If the dish does not come out perfect it’s not a big deal. Also, if they don’t do a certain technique correctly no big deal either.  I would always just let them know we really should have done it this way, show them in the recipe and remind them of how to read the recipe, but reassure them by saying it’s okay. We we still eat it!

3.  Its going to get really messy! Kids are messy. They actually enjoy getting messy. So let them. They also take part in the cleaning process as well. They just want to have fun. And if it’s fun for them they will keep coming back and won’t be afraid to cook and try new healthy foods! 

Here are two recipes that the kids loved and many of them told me they make it at home all the time:

Zucchini Mint Pasta-2

Zucchini Mint Pasta

Serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

½ lb whole wheat pasta
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 zucchini, cut into medium cubes
1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh basil
½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup feta cheese, diced

Fill pot with water and salt. Bring to the boil. Add pasta and boil pasta until done. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add red onion and zucchini. Sauté until zucchini starts to brown. Turn off heat. Zest whole lemon into skillet. Cut lemon in half and add the juice of the whole lemon. Turn heat back on and add pasta and warm through.

While the red onion and zucchini are sauteing, chiffonade mint and basil. Turn heat off the pan once the pasta is warmed through and add mint, basil, and both cheeses. Serve immediately.

Zucchini Mint Pasta

Chocolate Drizzled Pretzels

1 package large rod pretzels
1 package chocolate chips, or white or caramel
Sprinkles

Fill a saucepan with water half full. Put chips in metal bowl and place over pot of water to create a double boiler. Heat chips over water over medium heat stirring constantly until melted.

Place pretzels on parchment paper. Dip pretzels in melted chocolate and place back on parchment paper to harden. Put sprinkles on chocolate dipped pretzels before chocolate hardens.

You can also melt white or caramel chips and drizzle over pretzels to make design.

Do you teach kids cooking classes? What have you learned about doing it well?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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