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Summer classes get the kids in the kitchen

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Barbara Beery opened kids' cooking store, activity center.

Are your kids tired of making themselves grilled cheese sandwiches and ramen noodles this summer? There's still time for them to take a few cooking lessons, no matter if they are preschoolers or teens getting ready to head off to college.

Kids' cookbook author Barbara Beery has recently opened Kids Cook! — a kids' cooking store and activity center on Far West Boulevard. Beery offers both scheduled classes and drop-in activities for children as young as 2.

"(Cooking) is so much like an art activity that kids naturally gravitate toward it," Beery says. "We try to engage all the senses, the colors, smells, textures and taste, involved in cooking."

There aren't many places that cater to kids as young as my 3-year-old son, Julian, whose main objective for being in the kitchen while I'm cooking is getting quick access to the sweetest ingredient on the countertops. It's no surprise, then, that of the two activity choices (sweet and healthy) he chose the sweet option: a red, white and blue cupcake. Beery led Julian and another budding chef through the steps, from decorating an apron through assembling the cupcake and ending with cleanup. Many of the activities are based on recipes from Beery's 11 kid-themed cookbooks. "You can adapt any recipe for little kids to preteenagers," she says. "With the younger kids, you can spoon-feed them the steps, but with older kids, you can just give them general guidelines and tips and let them loose."

The store is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday for 15-minute drop-in activities, which cost about $11 and include some supplies to take home. Beery is also offering scheduled classes ($13.99 to $29.99, including cooking products and tools to take home) for various age groups on Tuesday and Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons: toque and toddler (for ages 2 to 5, 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays), koodie (6 years and older, 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays) and general interest (various age ranges, 10:30 a.m. Saturdays).

In addition to the classes, the store offers a colorful selection of cookbooks, cookie cutters, cake molds, candy kits, kid-sized utensils and other adorable products that are as appealing to adults as their young chefs. Go to kidscookingshop.com for class details and list of each week's activity choices. Call 346-3333 to reserve a spot at one of the scheduled classes or book a party or private class.

Here are a few other options before school starts again for kids of all ages who want to learn more about cooking:

• Getting high school students ready for living (and cooking) on their own is the goal of a series of classes that Patricia Bauer-Slate and her staff at Patricia's Lunchbox are offering July 26 through July 30. "It's a class on how to function in your own kitchen once you leave home," says cooking instructor Jane King. "What to buy, how to eat well without spending a fortune, how to break down a whole chicken, easy side dishes" and simple dishes made with ingredients like ground beef and eggs. The College Bound classes, which take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday near the Domain in North Austin, is for high school students and costs $40 per session.

Patricia's Lunchbox, which during the school year provides lunches for students at eight private schools in Austin, is also offering a class about chocolate ($40) from 10 a.m. to 12:30 July 21 for students entering sixth through eighth grades.

Download the enrollment sheet for each class at patriciaslunchbox.com and e-mail jane@patriciaslunchbox.com with questions.

• For the past few years, Open Door Preschool, 3804 Cherrywood Road, has hosted a two-week, cooking-focused program called Camp Chef Kids. Kids ages 7 to 12 help grow food in the school's garden, learn how to prepare snacks and some meals for themselves and go on field trips to grocery stores to buy ingredients for a luncheon that they put on at the end of the camp. Development director Nikka Comeaux says there are still camp spots available for the final weeks of the full-day program, which costs $125 per week. (Comeaux says that the school provides a sliding scale or reduced tuition for families that qualify.) Call 481-0775 for information and enrollment.

• Young Chefs Academy, a national company that has Round Rock and South Austin locations, offers after-school and weekend classes year-round for preschoolers through teens. During the summers, students can attend multiple-day camps ($100-150) that cover topics like chocolate or secret ingredients and regional cuisines such as Italian, Southwest or Southern cooking in two- and three-hour sessions several days a week. The schedules and details are available at www.youngchefsacademy.com .

• Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard has another month's worth of kids cooking classes for children as young as 5. Most days of the week feature an hourlong class ($40) at 10 a.m. for a certain age group, and each week, instructors cover a different theme such as Greek food, chocolate, cookies or knife basics.

• Whole Foods Market downtown is offering two five-day cooking camps in the next few weeks, which will take students course-by-course through an entire dinner party. The camp for kids 8 to 12 starts Monday ($150) and the one for teens ages 13 to 17 starts July 26 ($200). Sign up online at www.wholefoodsmarket.com .

abroyles@statesman.com; 912-2504