Kids’ cooking shows and competitions are all the rage; children’s menus in Seattle restaurants boast everything from dim sum to dolma; and a growing number of kids actually describe themselves as foodies. In other words, a birthday party starring a menu of slab cake, congealed pizza and Pirate Booty doesn’t cut it for many kids these days.
Luckily, in the Seattle area, options abound for celebrating your young chef’s annual milestone. From cooking up a delectable birthday dinner under expert guidance to enjoying a royal tea party, these foodie fetes are all about the flavor.
Keeping it class-y
If you have a future MasterChef Junior contester who thrives on practicing juliennes and sautees, why not let them learn exciting new skills at a cooking class party? From brunch to fanciful fondant, there are many options to choose from. At Blue Ribbon Cooking School kids 12 and older can face off in their very own, high-drama Iron Chef Competition; Blue Ribbon also offers cooking parties with themes from Mexican to picnic.
Sushi and quiche are just two of the choices on the party menu at Seattle's Apron cooking school, while at Frog Legs Academy (with locations in Seattle and Kirkland), guests can try their hand at Parisian patisserie creations, Italian pasta-making or a fairy spread of pixie tea sandwiches and pink smoothies. Cooking parties generally span two to three hours and usually come with extras such as beverages, dessert, aprons and recipe packets for guests to take home. Prices start at around $425 depending on theme and size.
Prefer something simpler? Many local pizza restaurants, including Zeeks, Pagliacci and California Pizza Kitchen offer make-your-own pizza parties that may be a better bet for the younger crowd.
Eat and play
Taking the birthday boy or girl out to a truly memorable meal with family and friends makes for a lovely tradition that could be continued until adulthood. Have your meal take center stage by watching Samurai-like swords and blazing flames fly at downtown Seattle’s Hamanasu, a traditional Japanese hibachi grill. At the Grill from Ipanema — a Brazilian churrascaria bound to be popular with ever-hungry teenage boys — brawny waiters wield giant knives laden with grilled meats.
Kids will also love the opportunity to play with their food at an interactive dinner: Gooey fondue or bubbling hot pot are always a hit; or try the at-your-table Korean grill at Trove, a vibrant spot on Seattle's Capitol Hill that also features a made-to-order noodle bar and a funky van serving up exotic ice cream parfaits.
Is a party ever a party without a sugar overdose? Go beyond a grocery-store sheet cake to indulge in some seriously sophisticated confections. Unleash your kid's inner pastry chef with cake decorating at Pinkabella Cupcakes in a party room that’s a pink, frilly daydream come true. Or book a Sprinkle Party, complete with frosting bar, at Cupcake Royale. (Both Pinkabella and Cupcake Royale have multiple locations in Seattle and on the Eastside; prices start at around $18 per person.)
Unleash the kids at a candy store with a party at Ballard’s iconic Sweet Mickey’s, where up to 20 guests can come play, shop, and, of course, eat sweets.
For a less messy adventure, book a party at the Queen Mary Tea Room in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood. Guests are treated to a formal high tea with bone china, tiaras and a children’s menu starring dainty sandwiches, pastries and even purple cotton candy.
And if you’d like to temper that sugar rush with some real food first, look no further than Bellevue’s Vivo 53, an Italian restaurant famous for its grand finale: gigantic, aptly named "Insane Sundaes" that are an explosion of gelato, lollipops, candy bars and ice cream sandwiches (yes, on top of your sundae).
Meals on wheels
A surefire recipe for spring and summer birthdays is to order up a food truck and its rolling party goodies; these days, on-the-go options are as varied as kids’ tastes. Stick with the classics — a pizza party — with a mobile pizza oven from Elemental Wood Fired Pizza; or go big with Hawaiian-Korean tacos from the Big Blue Marination truck, both available year-round. (One caveat: Hiring the full truck does get pricey and requires ample space — check out delivery options for a more affordable option.)
For a smaller-scale wheeled treat, stay cool with POP UP from Mobile Mavens, a nostalgic bright orange ice-cream bicycle that peddles a variety of artisanal chilled delights — stickers, temporary tattoos, and summer music are included.
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