If your little one is a budding chef, you will want to know about the many classes offered by Epicurious Kids Cookery - a child-centred cooking school for children in Northwest Calgary. Owner Michelle Friese is excited to revolutionize the way children look at food, and looks forward to empowering them, through cooking, to eat healthier and have more fun at mealtimes.
If you would like an Epicurious Kids Monkey Muffins recipe to try at home, click here to print off this super kid-friendly PDF recipe.
What was your inspiration for opening this business?
There were two people who inspired me to open a cookery; my sister and my one-year-old daughter. My sister Sarah inspired me with an unexpected idea one afternoon while we were having lunch together. She told me about a show she had seen where children were attending a cooking school and not only having so much fun, but also enjoying their roasted butternut squash. They were actually eating vegetables they’d never try at home because they had a hand in the preparation! I immediately thought of my sister-in-law who faces an exhausting daily battle at mealtimes to entice my niece and nephews to eat even a few bites of veggies.
Then we talked about why kids are more open to trying food they’ve made themselves. We reasoned that it likely has to do with developing a sensory connection with the ingredients and the food itself. It’s natural to be more strongly connected to food when your involved in the cooking process and benefit from satisfaction of completing a worthwhile task—and what a great self-esteem booster! Like most parents, I want my daughter to develop a healthy connection with food. Every time I went to the grocery store and chose what to buy for her to eat, I was struck more than ever with the importance of eating whole foods. My little girl became my inspiration for opening up to the reality of the bigger picture. The issue of whether or not to allow treats and if so when, led me to conclude that, as usual, balance and moderation is key.
From here, one idea led to another. Sarah really encouraged me to think about my experience in education and my love of cooking. She thought it would be a perfect fit. The idea of opening my own business scared me to death. I was on maternity leave and had a job I loved to go back to, but I couldn’t just dismiss it altogether. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. The pieces of the puzzle all seemed to fall into place. After a few weeks of selling the idea to my husband, we decided that opening a cookery for young people was a dream worth pursuing.
What types/ages of classes will be offered?
We’re going to start with single classes and 5-week courses that range from ages 3 to14. Our Sweet Peas course is designed for parents of children 3 to 5 years old to attend together. The Honeybees course is for ages 5 to 7, Sprouts is for ages 8 to 11, and Growing Gourmets course will be offered to young people 12-14. We will eventually open a Budding Chefs course for ages 15 to 17. Each course includes culinary skills that are age-appropriate and easy to follow graphic recipe cards for the younger levels.
We will offer a number of different classes and themes. There will be Edible Art classes to spark creativity and imagination as well as classes that focus on the fundamentals of cooking. Young chefs will also learn more about different cultures and traditions by experimenting with a variety of flavorful dishes.
I’m also really excited about offering birthday parties at our kitchen studio. We have different packages and themes to choose from and will be adding more themes as we go.
If you could cook with any celebrity chef who would it be?
I would love the opportunity to cook with Jamie Oliver. He transformed the school food program in Britain and went on to host the TV show called Food Revolution. I’m in awe of him to be honest. His commitment to raising awareness about childhood and adult obesity to change and save lives seems so heart-felt and genuine. After watching this show, I found out that according to Alberta Health and Wellness, 29 % of children and youth are overweight or obese right here in our own province. What an eye-opener! Now I really want to do my part to promote healthy lifestyles to children who live in our communities.
Would you like to share your favourite recipe?
My favorite recipes change with the seasons, but since it’s a cold and rainy day, I’d like to share and easy and delicious Thai soup that takes away the chills. I love Thai food, so this Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Soup is one of my favorites.
1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
2 stalks of lemongrass
4 quarter sized slices of ginger slightly crushed
4 cups of chicken broth
1 can (400 ml) of coconut milk
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of lime juice
Zest from ½ a lime
1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and sliced thin
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
(for a vegetarian version, substitute chicken with firm tofu and chicken broth with vegetable broth)
· Thinly slice the chicken
· Use the dull side of a chef knife to slightly crush the bottom 6 inches of the lemongrass. Cut off and discard what is left over.
· Put lemongrass, ginger, and broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
· Reduce heat to simmer and add coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar
· Simmer for about 10 minutes
· Add the chicken, limejuice, lime zest, and chili. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken turns opaque.
· Stir in Cilantro just before serving.