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Do you love cooking shows like Chopped Junior? If your kid has seen the show and is itching to learn, here are some places around the state that could help your kid become a culinary star. At the very least it might mean you get a night or two off from making dinner!
213 Newark Ave., Jersey City
Specializing in the littlest chefs, kids as young as three get their hands dirty making cookies, healthy school lunches and yummy veggie-filled treats. Try summer and winter camp, the after-school enrichment program or cooking playdates (where you can plan meet-ups with your kid and four of their pals … with no clean-up for you). Be sure to check out “Date Night Fridays,” where you drop off the kids to cook and get a night to yourself. One class will run you $27 and five will cost you $105. Ages 4–15.
Locations in Hoboken, Red Bank, Morristown and Ridgewood
Feel like a staffer when you sign up for a course at legendary Carlo’s Bakery (of TLC’s Cake Boss fame). Kids learn to create masterpieces out of fondant in the two-hour-long “Cupcake Flower,” “Piping” and “Bow Creating” classes. Classes start at $79.95. Ages 10 and up.
Chef It Up
This cooking school specializes in parties (they’ll even come to you) and also offers regular classes at their Nutley location. Kids can learn everything from pasta-making to cupcake-decorating. Have a child with a nut allergy? All food items are guaranteed peanut- and tree nut-free. Classes start at $30 per person. Ages 3 and up.
710 South Ave. West, Westfield
Chefs here emphasize the importance of gardening and farm-to-table cuisine. They also offer private lessons for all ages, camps for kids as young as four years old, cooking classes for adults (many of which allow teens), “Mommy and Me” classes and birthday parties. Students learn the fundamentals of Italian cuisine, breakfast foods or cakes. Individual classes start at $59, and three-day camps start at $150. Ages 4 and up.
The Farm Cooking School
67 Pleasant Valley Rd., Titusville
Kids cooking classes include knife skills and world cuisines including dishes from France, Mexico, Italy, the Mediterranean and India! Students learn the fundamentals of Italian cuisine, breakfast foods or cakes. They have special family events like the Family Pizza Party using their wood-fired outdoor pizza oven. All classes include lunch, cover at least 3 dishes and many techniques to build cooking skills. They are located on a working organic vegetable farm, and emphasize fresh ingredients. During the summer there are week long camps for kids.
“Cutie Cooks” (kindergarten through second grade) teaches kids the cooking terms and techniques they need to create their own smoothies, pastas and muffins. “Junior Chefs” (third to sixth grade) get to learn about a different country’s cuisine each week. If sweets are more their thing, kids can try “Cupcake-alicious,” where they’ll learn pro decorating tips and take home three finished cupcakes per week. Each session runs for 10 weeks. 10-week classes are $390 plus a $50 registration fee. Ages 5-14.
Kings Cooking Studio
778 Morris Tpke., Short Hills
Head to this hands-on cooking class where courses include topics like “Fall Fish,” which teaches students how to make cornbread crusted shrimp with Creole filling, or seared scallops with pumpkin risotto. There are also workshops and cooking camps for tweens and teens. Single sessions are $50, and five-day workshops start at $300. Ages vary.
Le Gourmet Factory
176A South Van Burnt St., Englewood
This place focuses on getting your mini-chefs to transform “typical” kids’ dishes into healthier creations. In after-school programs and six-week boot camps kids will learn how to make things like Tex Mex chili, turkey mini meatloaves and chocolate chip banana muffins. Individual, holiday-themed, date night and “Mommy and Me” classes are also offered. $85 for individual classes, $375 for six-week camp. Ages 6–14.
42 Liberty Corner Rd., Warren
22 Church St., Bernardsville
Send your picky eater here: PEP Club teaches kids easy dishes (think French toast, cookies and pies) and incorporates kid-friendly characters (like Olaf) into pancakes. These hour-long sessions also squeeze in a math lesson (measuring), give kitchen safety guidance and teach kids to clean up when they’re done. After eating their handmade treats, mini-chefs can burn off some energy at the kids’ gym right in the same building. Summer cooking camps are five days long and cost $120 each. Single classes are $20 each. Ages 3-12.
Ridgewood Culinary Studio
223 Chestnut St., Ridgewood
Traditional cooking classes covering pastas, soups, stews and more are on the agenda here. But the real fun comes at camp time, when aspiring cooks get a behind-the-scenes look at a professional kitchen. They also offer Mommy & Me cake-and cupcake-making. Prices start at $25 for one-time classes, and $150 for a six-week session. Ages 6-16.
Taste & Technique
597 River Rd., Fair Haven
Workshops here include classes like “Favorite Foods with a Twist,” where kids put a new spin on their favorite dishes. There are also classes for teens and regular, after-school course offerings. Call for prices, three classes can be purchased for $120
105 Main St., Millburn
These guys are expert decorators and your kid will be too, after one of their cookie-cupcake or cake-decorating classes. Try one of their specialty events or a “Mommy/Daddy and Me” class (so everyone can get in on dessert). $40 per class. Ages vary.
Based in Union (pictured above), you don’t even have to leave your house for these classes—they’ll come to you with all the goodies you need for cookie-making. Chefs will show you how to decorate with fondant and how to make bread. Arrange a personal session, where your kid can make anything they’re interested in, from candy-making to a perfect pie crust—a great gift for your budding baker. $200 per private lesson. Ages 8-16.
At most Williams Sonoma locations your child can be part of their "Junior Chef" classes, or "Kinder Cook" program for kids as young as three. Children make delicious recipes, from main courses to desserts and snacks, with plenty of tasting along the way. Classes are currently on Saturdays. For specific times and details check with the local store. Prices up to $30. Ages 3 and up.
Young Chefs Academy
712 Ginesi Dr., Marlboro
Toddlers can cook, too! Kids as young as three years old can enroll in the “Kinder Cook” program, where they’ll learn about food preparation, nutrition and sanitation—all while tackling a different style of food each week. They also offer summer break and holiday camps and semi-private classes. Prices and vary ages.