"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.
In her hands-on cooking classes, Chef Myrna Kallergis imbues students with some of the culinary expertise that has landed her gigs at the Austin Wine & Music Festival and working with Food Network's Ted Allen. At weekly customized sessions, she and occasional guests chefs?such as 2007 James Beard Award nominee Monica Pope?teach pupils how to make burgers, gourmet pizzas, and tarts from scratch. She also instructs youngsters on cooking fundamentals at summer camps, where kids enjoy light, nutritious lunches in between lessons built around themes such as food from around the world. Along with teaching, Chef Myrna helps guests improve their eating habits with calorie-counted, portioned, and packaged meal plans designed around specific wellness goals. Her venue is also designed to host small private events.
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In a time when most people find out about survival skills through reality television, brothers Dave and Michel Scott are the exception. The two brothers spent their formative years exploring the Texas wilderness. Dave, a US Army veteran, is 1 of only 20 people in North America qualified as a Track and Sign Specialist. He and his brother have devoted themselves to helping society remember the skills that have kept us alive for thousands of years.
Earth Native Wilderness School's instructors come from all walks of life, but they each have a love of nature. With lessons in medicinal plants, basic wilderness survival, and wildlife tracking, the school's classes teach students skills such as fashioning tools for survival, arrow making, fire by friction, and finding an ATM in the desert. The staff also realizes humanity's spiritual connection to nature and can even guide students through a vision quest to strengthen their relationship with nature.
The sustainable Thai cooking classes at Thai Fresh have an edge on any cooking course looking to compete: their instructor is co-owner Jam Sanitchat, who developed her skill set over countless hours spent in her grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand. The fully stocked market not only hosts classes where students learn how to cook, but supplies them with the ingredients they need to make their own Thai meals. The deli area serves up inspiration with an extensive menu featuring classic Thai dishes and samples of dishes currently being taught in Sanitchat’s classes. Sanitchat brings an extra kick to her authentic recipes with local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients such as free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, and rice noodles shaped by local document shredders.
Thrice, the neighboring café, serves fresh-baked pastries and sandwiches made onsite daily. A schedule of singers and folk artists entertains diners as they sip coffee, wine, or give themselves suds mustaches with local beers on tap.
Heart-shaped measuring cups. A frilly cherry-print apron. A five-minute brownie oven. Looking like Rachael Ray’s kitchen had been hit by a shrink ray, Foodie Kids’ store brims with tiny gadgets for playful cooking endeavors. The storefront is one facet of owner Barbara Beery’s mission to spark children’s passion for cooking and nutrition. To that end, Foodie Kids hosts culinary classes and cooking camps, where students follow wholesome and simple recipes to create fruit popsicles, chicken tenders, and guacamole. Kids can also attend Makery drop-in decorating sessions and pick out cookbooks to read to pet gingerbread men.
Make It Sweet is a baker’s dream. Across 7,000 square feet, more than 5,000 baking and decorating products line the shelves, from colorful sprinkles to instructional books on how to sprinkle sprinkles. Staffers help visitors find the supplies and tools they need to also craft beautiful cakes, cookies, and candies for special occasions of all kinds. Their resident instructors lead a variety of classes, and seasoned pros often visit to conduct special guest courses on topics such as sugar sculpture, fondant figures, and more.