Is your child a budding Giada De Laurentiis or Gordon Ramsay? Do they dream about making three-tiered cupcakes or creating the perfect pot au feu?
These days “foodies” are younger than ever, with many kids taking a proactive stance in the kitchen. The accessibility of fresh ingredients coupled with a multitude of entertaining cooking shows and competitions are compelling kids to try their hand at cooking, baking and pastry making.
Summer is the perfect time to let your kids go wild in the kitchen. And if that “kitchen” includes a camp setting where children can socialize with friends, learn valuable skills and try new recipes, even better. These camps are dedicated to teaching kids, from age two to teen, the art of cooking. Who knows? Your child just might be the next “Top Chef.”
The Kids’ Table
The Kids’ Table offers hands-on cooking camps for chefs of all ages. Their weeklong programs give kids a chance to learn basic skills, experiment with ingredients, and follow new recipes (that the kids can bring home). Camp themes range from silly to sublime with a broad range of topics, including: “Dough-nuts,” “Superhero Kids,” “Culinary Boot Camp” and “Farmers’ Market Feast.” (2337 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-235-2665)
Sur La Table
This summer, Sur la Table will offer weeklong cooking programs for kids and teens. Each session will focus on a different food-centric theme, such as “Road Trip USA,” “The World’s Best Food” and “The Science of Cooking.” (Northbrook Court: 2171 Northbrook Court, Northbrook, 847-770-4584; Old Orchard: 4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, 847-568-1220)
Inspire your child’s love of cooking with the Kid’s Culinary Camp at Whole Foods Market. The three-day camp explores different departments in the market, including behind-the-scenes preparations and plenty of taste testing. The campers will also work in the kitchen where they’ll follow recipes and create their own delicious meals. Each camper leaves with recipes, a chef’s hat and an apron.(760 Waukegan Rd., Deerfield, 847-444-1900)
The Chopping Block
The Chopping Block has long been regarded as one of the best places for novice chefs to learn how to cook. Their stellar reputation extends to their kids’ camp program. Campers will learn how to follow recipes and work cleanly and safely in the kitchen while exploring new foods and ingredients. Each four-day session is unique, so campers are encouraged to sign up for multiple sessions.(4747 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-472-6700)
In the three-day program “Cooking Around the U.S.,” kids will explore the regional cuisine of the United States, learning how to make everything from Southern biscuits to Chicago caramel corn to the pasta of Little Italy and more. The week will end in a show-off dinner for parents. Reserve by March 1 for a 10 percent discount. (507 Chestnut St., Winnetka, 847-441-0134)
For teens interested in the art of cooking, there is the Culinary Camp at Kendall College. The camp offers one-, two- and three-week programs that cover cooking, baking and pastry design. Each session culminates with a feast for family and friends prepared entirely by the campers. Participants are given the option to attend the program as a day camper or stay overnight for what is billed as a “full-blown college experience and adventure!” (900 N. North Branch St., Chicago, 888-905-3632)
Passport NYC at 92Y
“A foodie’s dream” is the best way to describe Passport NYC at 92Y’s Culinary Arts program. Each three-week session explores the culinary world of New York City with hands-on lessons from some of New York’s finest chefs. Campers are also invited to tour famous restaurants, meet with esteemed food critics and work with GrowNYC’s Greenmarket. All Passport NYC campers stay at the 92YResidence where they will socialize, explore and discover the wonders of New York City. Now that’s living the dream. (1395 Lexington Ave., New York, NY, 212-415-5641)