Inside a colorful kitchen on Jefferson Highway, chefs are making buttermilk and baking from-scratch cupcakes.
But these are no ordinary chefs. In fact, some haven’t even begun kindergarten yet.
This is the Baton Rouge Young Chefs Academy, a culinary school for kids where students learn to make everything from cookies to quesadillas. The academy holds classes for KinderCooks (students ages 3 to 6) and JuniorChefs (ages 7 and older). In classes and workshops, owner Gay Nan Moree says students learn how to make everything from scratch.
“We want the students to know that they can make their own ingredients,” Moree says. “You don’t always have to go to the store.”
In 2005, the academy opened its Jefferson Highway location, where classes and workshops are taught by employees who are experienced in the kitchen and with kids. This year, classes have become a respite for parents and kids looking for activities that will get them out of the house during the state’s phased reopening. The academy has implemented safety measures including restricted class sizes, temperature checks and distancing and hygiene protocols.
In the coming school year, classes will be held in the afternoon, and Moree hopes the after-school classes will help parents who are trying to navigate back-to-school schedules during the pandemic.
Classes focus on a range of cooking skills, but workshops usually have a theme. This Friday, July 31, the academy is hosting a pastry workshop and a Christmas in July workshop.
In the pastry workshop, students learn how to cook a plethora of pastries from scratch. In the Christmas in July workshop, they’ll be making on-theme snacks like snowman cupcakes and Christmas tree-shaped pull-apart bread.
Not only does the academy teach cooking skills, but it also tries to teach table manners, another skill instructors hope will be used at home and outside of their classes. Students learn how to clean up after themselves and how to behave when eating alongside others.
“We want to teach the kids the joy and satisfaction of cooking,” Moree says. “One day they’ll need to use what we’re teaching them.”
Baton Rouge Young Chefs Academy is at 7970 Jefferson Highway, Suite E. If you would like to register for a class, workshop, or sign your group up for a field trip, visit the Baton Rouge Young Chefs Academy website.