Jeri Kopecky baked her first cake with her mother in the kitchen of her family's home in Ennis, a city south of Dallas. Batter wasn't the only thing transformed by the heat of that oven, and after years of helping her mother decorate cakes for friends and neighbors, Jeri took it upon herself to make her passion her career. In 1998, she bought a cake shop, expanded its size to 4000 square feet, and leapt into business for herself. One short year later, her own daughter Kelli joined her in the baking business, and the pair now whip up multilayer bridal cakes and creative birthday cakes for their ever-growing neighborhood. Cake Carousel's ample kitchens also provide a venue for eager students to come and learn the decorating techniques that have twice been passed from mother to daughter. Basic classes teach everything from leveling batter to simple frosting-piping techniques, and students in advanced sessions sculpt complex sculptures out of fondant or learn the elements of design behind a cookie bouquet. Several instructors aid Jeri and Kelli in keeping their year-round calendar of classes running. Occasional guest and celebrity sugar artists—such as Lauren Kitchens, various Food Network chefs, or a peanut-flavored fondant sculpture of George Washington Carver—supplement the lineup with classes in their particular specialties. The candy and cookie store also offers supplies for cake, candy-making, and cookies such as gelatin, isomalt, fondant, and gum-paste.
"If you make it, you will taste it" is the motto founders Julie Fabing Burleson and Suzy Vinson Nettles envisioned when they created Young Chefs Academy. In addition to giving youngsters hands-on exposure to culinary techniques, kitchen safety, eating etiquette, and table setting, the academy's philosophy ensures that kids like 10-year-old former veggie-hater Camille gain an appreciation for healthy homemade cuisine. With centers in more than 10 states, Young Chefs Academy enriches growing minds ages 3–18 with engaging cooking classes, camps, and birthday parties that impart valuable life skills, such as self-reliance and how to trick a younger sibling into doing the dishes.
The recipe for a successful cooking class requires the right mix of teacher, chef, and nutritionist—a balance that each instructor strikes at Young Chefs Academy Frisco. They host students aged 4–16 in weekly cooking classes that regularly change recipes while sticking to the monthly theme. They cater to individual children, school field trips, and even scout troops. They even host birthday parties, which let young chefs celebrate their big day with hands-on instruction on how to make their own pizza, gingerbread houses, or birthday cakes that come out of the oven already on fire and ready to be blown out.
Matthew and Heather Hamilton believe in local beef. Trading in corporate jobs to raise their own cattle in 2009, the couple began Genesis Beef, and eventually opened Local Yocal Farm to Market, a butcher shop selling free-range beef and pasture-raised pork, chicken, and eggs. The two haven’t looked back since.
Local Yocal Farm to Market’s grass-fed cattle meander across the Hamilton family farm, where their caretakers swap out growth stimulants and antibiotics in favor of fresh air. At the shop, an in-house butcher with more than 25 years of experience ages and cuts beef to customer specifications. Visitors can partake in some of this expertise during classes that teach beef lovers the difference between a sirloin, a filet, and a rubber steak covered in dog drool. In addition to top cuts of meat, the shop’s shelves also bear the fruits of other locally sourced businesses, including Full Quiver Cheeses and Drinkable yogurts, Aduro Bean coffees, and AP's Apiaries Honey.
Jeff Pearce had spent more than 20 years struggling with weight gain, unrealistic diets, and resulting depression, and then a friend showed helped him to change relationship with food. It wasn't long before they learned all the basic principles and started to develop their own tasty recipes.
The recipes focus on ancient, whole ingredients and generations-old techniques, which Jeff and Shannon claim immediately improved their energy levels, immune systems, and abilities to bench-press SUVs. To bolster his understanding of such potent whole foods, Jeff went back to school to study holistic remedies and became certified as a holistic health practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Soon after, he and Shannon began to share their healing techniques in food-prep classes, through articles on their website, and with nutritional-counseling services.
It wasn't until after she had graduated from college and raised her two kids that Jenny Scott discovered that her true passion lay in teaching others how to cook. Undeterred by the relative lateness of her discovery, she went straight back to school in order to pursue her calling. Now, the Le Cordon Bleu graduate teaches classes both at Williams-Sonoma and through her own company, Kitchen Essentials. In her home kitchen, she teaches students the fundamentals of Italian pasta making, Thai cuisine, and Southern fare, as well as tips for making sauces and not shaking hands while holding butcher knives.