Kids Can Learn to Cook

Jul 21, 2021 | Food, Living, Today's Family Now

The students learn about food processes, from plants growing in the dirt to chopping produce and cooking complete dishes. On this day the kids are preparing a vegetable pasta dish.

If shows like Chopped Junior and Cupcake Wars Kids have taught us anything, it’s that you’re never too young to learn to cook. The popularity of these pint-sized cooking shows has introduced more children to the world of culinary arts. If you have a novice chef at home or just want your child to be more comfortable in the kitchen, the MESA Kids Cooking School, located on Pearl Street in New Albany, might be just what you’re looking for.

“Our goal is for students to feel comfortable working in the kitchen using what they’ve learned with us. We want them to learn to be safe with all kitchen utensils, learn what ingredients are best to use for various dishes and to always follow food safe protocols. We’re teaching them an important life skill and they’re having fun,” said MESA Kids Cooking School Co-owner Ysha Bass.

The cooking school opened in late 2017 and offers a variety of learning experiences tailored to children ages 3-15. The kitchen has five ovens and four refrigerators along with fully stocked work stations perfectly scaled to meet the needs of children. The cooking stations are set up in a horseshoe layout with the instructor in the middle, allowing for better one-to-one attention, Bass says.

“Our facilities provide children with everything they need to learn to cook and bake. Every student is given their own food and utensils to use, and everything in our kitchen is scaled down in size for children so they can be more comfortable,” Bass says. 

Seeing Food Differently

Kids who are so used to eating mac-n-cheese and chicken tenders can be skittish about trying new foods, especially vegetables, Bass says. She recalls one class where the students were making fresh vegetable soup. As they gathered the ingredients, the children would point to certain vegetables saying they didn’t like them and wouldn’t eat them. After learning how to wash, dice, slice and prepare the vegetables into the soup, they started to change their minds, she said. By the time they were ready to eat the soup they were talking about how good it smelled and tasted, Bass says.

“We’re changing the way kids look at foods. When they’re involved in the process from choosing the ingredients to preparing the dishes, it can change the way they think about food and makes them more open to trying new things,” Bass says.

MESA is offering eight, week-long summer camps with themes including Farmers Market, Food Science and Julia Child’s Camp. The camps run from 9am-Noon for 5- to 15-year-olds and cost $169 per session. Preschool camps for 3- to 5-year-olds run from 9-11am and cost $140.

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