Sometimes finicky eaters can become fascinated by food when they have a hand in making it themselves. The Kids' Table's proprietor Elena Marre discovered this with her own sons when they started helping her prepare meals. Eventually she took this idea and created her own family cooking school geared toward children aged 2–16.
During classes, kids prep produce at tot-sized countertops and sinks. They whisk together ingredients with tools calibrated to their little hands as they learn to appreciate varied flavors and textures apart from “plain” and “unslimey.” Parents can get in on the action by working alongside their tots during classes or by signing up to learn how to make baby food, create family meals, or please picky eaters.
Chef Naveen Sachar elucidates the fine art of Indian-fare preparation during a live BYOB cooking demonstration at Naveen’s Cuisine. Customers who opt for the demonstration-and-dinner night, held bimonthly, quickly find themselves enthralled by Naveen’s zest for northern-Indian delicacies as he chops and combines meats and vegetables before simmering them into sumptuous and spicy dishes. To enlighten and entertain his audience, the chef proffers extensive knowledge of Indian cuisine, cooking techniques, and terrifying anecdotes of mutinous kitchens throughout the demonstration. When the steaming entrees—be they masala, masoor dal, or murgh curry—announce their readiness by filling the room with their tantalizing aromas, patrons sit down to partake of a multiple-course dinner with their new comrades, allowing bottled drinks brought from home to lubricate conversation about the demonstration, their favorite dishes, and whether their esteemed chef might have an equally talented bachelor brother.
Flip Crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.
Pied Piper Parties & Playschool provides enriching play for children of all ages with active classes and themed events. Using her experience working at a Montessori preschool, Stephanie Williams oversees the youth playschool and camp, while colleague chef Janelle Rinehart leads hands-on cooking classes that introduce nutrition and discuss where dinner comes from and why it can never go back. Youth playschool helps children 5 months–3 years gain social skills with four progressive classes filled with music, art projects, and story time. In cooking classes, youths up to 10 years old prepare sweet and savory treats with supervised use of cooking equipment. Two-hour parties celebrate kids with custom themes ranging from dinosaurs to princesses, and include games, cake, and take-home gift bags.
Before they were moms with six children between them, Simply Homemade owners Cindy and Stephanie were food-industry professionals, studying nutrition and food-product development. Now, they've combined both experiences to create a company that supplies healthy, handcrafted meals to busy families. Working off of a monthly menu of 22 entrees, the duo whips up mouthwatering pastas, burgers, and kebabs chock-full of whole grains, hand-trimmed chicken, and natural beef from Heartland Meats. Then, they either preassemble meals for customers to pick up or set up ingredients for customers to assemble themselves onsite. The latter option, which takes about two hours, makes it easier for customers to tailor dinners to a child's love of mushrooms or a dog's disdain for cilantro.
The Chef Du Jour provides catering/event planning, cooking classes, and personal chef services. A Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef Rita will provide you with mouth-watering food, or teach you the skills to do it yourself through interactive classes.
Cooking Skills Academy's four resident chefs oversee hands-on cooking classes in a custom-designed gourmet kitchen. During the 15-Minute Meals class, students learn to prepare healthy, flavorful meals in 15 minutes each and hone an arsenal of cooking techniques more efficient than trying to convince raw asparagus to walk across hot coals. Other classes include Chocolates class, Pizza workshops, and Latin Barbecue. Like sculptors constructing busts of Martin Luther from limburger cheese, amateur food artists can snack on their masterpieces as they go, and take home a copy of each recipe used in the session. Check Cooking Skills Academy’s online calendar for a full list of class times and dates for such sessions as hands-on pasta making, Knife Skills 101, and Date Night Sushi 101.