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Tot Chef: Best Kids’ Cooking Classes Around Puget Sound

A sampler of classes and tips for teaching kids the joy of cooking

Devon Hammer
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Published on: January 29, 2020

cooking campers at sous

Preparing meals: It is something we humans must do like clockwork, three times a day, 365 days a year. Teaching this fundamental life skill to our children should be a priority. The goal doesn’t have to be to groom a “Master Chef Junior”–ready contestant, certainly. But teaching our kids to gain comfort and confidence in the kitchen over time establishes a foundation for healthier eating habits for the rest of their lives.

If leaving the mess and coaching to the experts sounds like the most savory solution to you, we are here to “stir” you in the right direction with a roundup of fun cooking classes and camps in the Puget Sound area. (Note: Many of these sell out fast, so book early!)

Culinary classes for Seattle and Eastside-area kids

FrogLegs Culinary Academy

Started in a mom’s cozy kitchen in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, this kid-focused company has expanded to locations on the Eastside (Kirkland, Issaquah) and in Seattle, including a newer location in University Village that features a drool-triggering treat mercantile. FrogLegs offers everything from camps and single-session classes to foodie field trips and birthday parties. Fun themed classes are interactive and engaging — and a touch whimsical: Narwhal- and penguin-inspired doughnuts, “Din Tai Fun” and a “Harry Potter Frogwarts Feast” are a few of the upcoming class themes.

Locations:

  • Kirkland: 501 Market St.
  • Seattle: University Village, 2643 Village Lane
  • Issaquah: 2550 N.E. Park Dr.

Ages: 2 and older

Cost: $55–$85 per day; $275 and up for camp/class series

PCC Kids Cook

With store locations sprinkled around the region, the kids’ cooking classes at these beloved neighborhood markets focus on healthy cooking, foundational skills and building confidence in the kitchen for budding chefs of all ages and at all stages. PCC offers a range of cooking education ops, from classes based on children’s books, such as “The Gruffalo’s Feast” for the youngest of chefs, to more complex skills-building classes, such as “Wok Star” for older kids. After-school cooking clubs and school-break camps are the icing on the cake for loving and learning about food all year around.
 
Locations: Check the PCC website for store locations near you that offer classes.

Ages: Kids can start classes at age 2.

Cost: $55–$75/class; PCC’s Cooking Club runs $165 for a three-class series; school-break camps cost $220 for a four-class series.

Pure Food Kids Workshop

The Beecher’s Foundation offers an in-school cooking education program tailored for fourth- and fifth-grade students in Seattle that is focused on providing kids with the tools, experience and knowledge they need to make healthy choices. Workshops are free and available to any type of school: private, public or a home-school setting. Tell your favorite teacher and get the word out!

Locations: Instructors come to you! Visit the foundation’s website to schedule a workshop in the Seattle metro area.

Grades: 4–5

Cost: Workshops are offered free of charge to all schools.

Junior Sous

Dumplings, pasta and cookies — oh my! Seattle-based Junior Sous is the new kid on the block, a pop-up cooking school for kids ages 5–12 that offers hands-on culinary experiences (group and private class instruction) taught in real restaurant kitchens. Instructors Sarah Adams and Brianna Bato Draper teach participants safe knife skills, how to read recipes and proper cooking techniques. 

Locations: Various Seattle-area professional restaurant kitchens

Ages: 5–12

Cost: Single-session classes $65; special Sunday Family Supper classes $120 for one child participant plus dinner for a family of four (including class participant) 

seattle cucina kids outside with squash
Photo: Seattle Cucina

Seattle Cucina

With an emphasis on nutrition, sustainability and building community, this cooking school offers many different kid- and family-friendly classes, camps and birthday parties for all ages and experience levels. Seattle Cucina also regularly hosts budget-friendly Community Dinners, which cost participants just $15, and teaches themed after-school enrichment classes at numerous area schools and community centers. Check the website for upcoming learning opportunities or to invite Seattle Cucina to your school!
 
Locations: Seattle Cucina’s learning kitchen is located at Fishermen’s Terminal, 3822 18th Ave. W., Seattle; after-school enrichment programs for K–8 students take place all over Seattle.

Ages: Kid and family classes are offered for young and more mature students, ages 4 and older.

Cost: $45–$55; winter-break camps start at $200 for a five-class series, $85 for a one-day camp.

Seattle Parks & Recreation

Seattle Parks & Recreation offers great cooking programs for kids ages 10 and older at multiple community centers around the city, and many of them are free or low-cost. The parks department also has a series for the younger crowd, called “Little Chefs” (ages 2–5), at the Ballard Community Center. This one fills quickly, so book early!

Locations: Check the website to see what classes are offered at a community center near you and to register.

Ages: 2 and older

Cost: Free or low-cost

Kirkland Parks

Kirkland Parks offers a parent/child cooking series for families with preschool-age kids, presenting seasonal rotating themes, such as holiday treats. A “Creating in the Kitchen” series focuses on teaching culinary skills and kitchen safety to kids ages 3–8.  
 
Location: McAuliffe Park, 10824 N.E. 116th St., Kirkland

Ages: 2 and older

Cost: Parent/child classes run $44–$55 for a three-week series; “Creating in the Kitchen” costs $126–$157 for a 12-week series.

Bellevue Parks & Community Services

Bellevue Parks & Community Services offers a class called “Top Junior Chef,” which teaches cooking basics to children in grades 2–5. Proper cooking methods and how and where to source healthy ingredients are key tenets of this nine-week series.

Location: Robinswood Community Park, 2432 148th Ave. S.E., Bellevue

Grades: 2–5

Cost: $136 for residents, $163 for nonresidents

Whisk

Whisk is one part kitchenware specialty shop, one part cooking school. It offers an array of classes for adults, as well as classes and camps designed for children. Current offerings include a pie-baking class and a dumpling-making class for teens.
 
Location: 10385 Main St., Bellevue

Ages: 8 and older

Cost: $75 for single-session classes; $375 for weeklong camps

kitchen coach
Photo: Kitchen Coach

Kitchen Coach Cooking School

Kitchen Coach in North Seattle, an offshoot of Mangia Bene Catering Seattle, offers classes for parents and kids. It also hosts birthday parties and all-day summer camps for budding chefs ages 10 and older.
 
Location: 850 N.E. 88th St., Seattle

Ages: 10–16

Cost: The per-class tuition rate is $125; weeklong summer camps cost about $575.

South Sound culinary classes for kids

Metro Parks Tacoma

Metro Parks Tacoma presents a class series called “Junior Chef,” through which 8- to 13-year-olds are taught basic cooking skills that build confidence and independence in the kitchen. 
 
Locations: Classes are taught at STAR Center, 3873 S. 66th St., and the Center at Norpoint, 4818 Nassau Ave. N.E., Tacoma. 

Cost: $92 for residents, $99 for nonresidents for the eight-class series

Bayview School of Cooking

Olympia’s Bayview School of Cooking offers a special, seasonally themed kids’ cooking program called BSC Kids Culinary Arts, with classes divided into two age groups.

Location: 516 W. Fourth Ave., Olympia

Ages: 5–13

Cost: $35 for students ages 5–8, $40 for ages 9–13

Covington Parks & Recreation

Young Chefs Academy hosts numerous single-day cooking workshops for kids ages 7–12 through Covington Parks & Recreation. The organization is set to open a standalone location in Covington soon.
 
Location: Classes take place at Covington City Hall, 16720 S.E. 271st St., Covington.

Ages: 7–12

Cost: $32–$48 per class

Ingredients for Success: Surefire Tips to Inspire a Lifelong Love of Cooking in Kids

While there are definitely days when cooking with your kids is not in the cards, taking the patience, care and time to include them in meal prep, despite any hurricane-rated property damage sustained, can have so many benefits for your whole family. Take a cue from Jackie Freeman, a professional cook, writer and mom to three little “kitchen monkeys” of her own: “The more the kids are involved in the process of cooking a meal, the more likely they are to eat it.” Amen.

With the help of Freeman and other local moms in the know, we’ve compiled a list of tips to make cooking with kids a whole lot more fun for everyone involved.

  • Plan ahead. This is not a novel idea, but it is crucial if you want to include your kids in cooking family meals. Enlist your child in the planning process as well. “The more involved they are, the more likely they are to try new things” says Freeman. Give them ownership by letting them choose one of their favorite meals for the week, help shop for the ingredients and then, of course, help cook it! 
  • If you have younger kids, invest in a step stool. Kids want to be right in the action and to do this safely at your elbow, a steady step stool for your kitchen helper is a must. If you are handy, there are a ton of DIY design plans and instructional videos available online to help you construct your own.
  • For older kids, buy a set of kid-safe knives. These will allow your child to be more involved in the entire process and empower them to prepare food — safely! — on their own. (Plus, who wouldn’t mind deputizing some of the chopping duties?)
  • Need a little more guidance and inspiration? Try a monthly cooking-kit subscription. There are quite a few options out there these days. Some provide just the recipes and tools needed; others conveniently deliver the actual ingredients as well. A few to check out: Raddish Kitchen Kids, Kidstir and Baketivity.  
  • Need practical starter ideas for what to cook? Try one of Freeman’s healthy and fun-to-make recipes for kid chefs
  • Select dishes that incorporate as many colorful, textural and flavorful fruits and vegetables as possible. Colorful foods are fun and incredibly nutritious, which is a win-win when cooking for and with kids. Freeman breaks down all the different colors and their nutritious punch.
  • So, what happens when you successfully prepare a meal with your kiddos and then they still won’t eat it? Don’t boil over! Freeman suggests you employ her “No-thank-you bite” method. She explains: “One day, I gave up [trying to make them eat everything on their plate] and said, ‘Okay, take one bite. If you don’t like it, say, “No, thank you,” and we’re done.’” Bingo! Children’s tastes are constantly changing, and what they didn’t like yesterday, they may well love tomorrow, so keep trying. 
  • Another strategy to avoid feeding frustration is to create meals in a build-your-own format, where diners can customize the toppings or fillings to their own preference. Some kid-(taste)-tested examples: tacos, pizza, rice bowls and omelets.

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