The Young Chefs Academy will open this spring at Broadway and 33rd Street. Based out of Waco, Texas, the franchise has opened 144 locations across the United States, but this is the first one in Oklahoma.
Edmond’s endeavor began last summer when Becky Carson called all over the state to locate a cooking course for Jacob, her eleven-year-old chef. Nothing was available in the state.
Carson went online and found the Young Chefs Academy. Their franchise motto: “You supply the chefs, we supply the rest.” With a Masters Degree in Education from UCO and more than twenty years teaching experience with elementary children, Carson believes in education. “I studied their curriculum and fell in love with it.”
Larry and Becky Carson along with their brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Dana Carson, decided this was an excellent opportunity. Becky, now a teacher at Orvis Risner Elementary, and Dana went to Texas for training.
“I always wanted to start my own business,” said Becky Carson. “We’ve seen God take care of everything, every step of the way. Everyone involved has been incredible and we’ve had no negative experiences.”
The Carson’s received small business funding through Allegiance Credit Union. “We’ve had a tremendous response from the community,” said Carson. “One banker told me I was the most persistent person they ever met.”
The academy includes two separate Nickelodeon colored kitchens, providing parents the ability to stay and watch the kids cook. The kids feel safe and comfortable in this child-friendly environment. Utensils are kid proof, like using safety scissors, while recipes are pre-approved by the home office. Every class has a head chef with assistants.
There are classes for almost every age from three to eighteen. Each class is age appropriate. The youngest cooks or Kindercooks, ages three to five, will dive right into cooking. The Young Chefs classes are designed for six to twelve year olds. Classes for teenagers, such as “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” a lesson on Asian cooking, will also be available. Along with reading and following directions, the cooking curriculum teaches math skills through counting and measurements. It even includes some kitchen-science experiments.
“Each month’s classes have a different theme. Every time the kids come in, they will cook something different,” said Carson. “We start with the basics and work up. All classes have an educational component. It is learning disguised as fun.
“I think the Food Network has created an interest in cooking, especially for kids under thirteen,” said Carson. “Today, a lot of the children are interested in food preparation. We have a simplistic philosophy. If kids make it, they’ll eat it. Parents are surprised when their kids just ate cauliflower or squash.”
The possibilities are numerous. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can earn their cooking badges. Field trips can be arranged from schools and daycares. Three-day summer camps are planned, as are a parent’s night out program and home school classes.
For adults, a “real” chef will be available for wedding showers to teach how to cook a gourmet meal for a romantic dinner. Baby showers can have chefs provide cooking tips on feeding children.
Special events will be offered such as “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny,” and for Mother’s Day, “Cook Brunch with Mom.” A merchandise line will also be available, including “Pizza in a Box,” and aprons with the Young Chef’s Academy logo.
Memberships in the Chef Club program will have additional perks, such as discounts on special events and merchandise. Members will also receive an apron and recipe binder where they will add recipes each week. Chef Club members can take part in the Master Chef program where they will participate in national bake-offs.
“Besides culinary skills, we’ll teach etiquette, manners and table setting, along with nutrition,” said Carson. “We hope to provide a service to the community. Cooking helps to bring the family back together.”
Larry and Becky Carson have lived in Edmond for twelve years and their children are supportive of the venture. Zach, their seventeen-year-old, and eleven-year-old Jacob were the first enrolled young chefs. Mike and Dana Carson have two children, ages two and three.
“It’s been a great experience and very rewarding,” said Carson. “We can’t wait to get started. We’re looking for certified teachers to work as head chefs.”
Cost for membership is $79 per month. Temporary memberships and individual classes are available for one year.
Come cook up some fun at the Young Chefs Academy, located at 3209 S. Broadway, Suite 101. For more information call 405-285-KYDZ (5939) or visit the website at www.YoungChefsAcademy.com.