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4 Hot Cooking Gifts for Your Little Chefs

Published December, 2008

Grandparents.com

Cooking classes, cookbooks, chefs-wear, ideas for chefs of all ages

1. Chefs' Wear and Utensils
Nothing will make your grandchildren feel more like bona-fide chefs than their own professional chef’s uniform, complete with chef’s utensils. Chefwear.com has pint-size toques, jackets, pants, and aprons. 

Growing Cooks sells everything, including hats, jackets, and child-size whisks, measuring spoons and rolling pins. Party favors for cooking-themed birthday parties and mix-and-bake sets are also available, as are aprons that you can personalize one with your grandchildren’s names embroidered in their favorite color. Grandparents can find personalized aprons that match their young charges’ kitchen costumes as well.
 
2. Classes
If your grandchildren express an interest in learning to cook, buying them cooking classes may be the way to go this holiday season. As our experts have said, cooking develops the young ones practical analytical skills, and helps them develop healthy eating habits while fostering their creativity.

National Classes:
Young Chefs Academy offers cooking classes for young children and teenagers in locations across America. Instructors, chefs, and nutritionists teach kitchen safety, proper food handling, and food preparation and technique, in an environment that encourages discovery and creativity and most of all, fun.

The Junior Chefs classes are geared toward kids, ages 5 to 13, and will help youngsters develop a love of cooking; Senior Chef classes are designed for older students looking for a more in-depth cooking experience and a chance to participate in developing new ideas and techniques.

Participating area stores have specific details; class offerings vary by location.

Local:
What’s Cooking, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a Green business that offers birthday parties, healthy cooking classes, and food-related products for kids. Its online shop has seasonal recipes and cooking tips for children and adults to enjoy and a great selection of sustainable, green gifts such as grow-your-own-food seed kits, reusable food containers for your eco-conscious grandkids, make-your-own chocolate kits and make-your-own gummies kits, a variety of cookbooks and food-themed books as well as utensils such as child-size rolling pins, whisks and spatulas.

Here is a list of other local kids’ cooking classes across America:

Arizona:
   Les Petites Gourmettes, Scottsdale
California:
   Kids Culinary Adventures, San Francisco
    Chef’s Inc., Los Angeles
Illinois:
   The Chopping Block, Chicago
Kansas:
    Culinary Center of Kansas City
Massachusetts:
    Cooking to Learn, Westford
    Kids Can Cook, Boston
Minnesota:
   Way Cool Cooking School, Minneapolis
Missouri:
    Kitchen Conservatory, St. Louis
New York:
   Culinary Institute of America Parents and Teen Classes, New York City
    Institute of Culinary Education, New York City
North Carolina:
    Classy Kids Cook, Cary
Ohio:
   Loretta Paganini School of Cooking, Chesterfield
Pennsylvania:
    Love Your Fruits and Vegetables, Bala Cynwyd
Texas:
    Kids Cooking Company, Dallas
    Batter Up Kids, Austin
Washington:
   NuCulinary, Seattle

3. Books
Nothing will entice your grandchildren into the kitchen more than having their own cookbook. There’s a good selection of kids’ cookbooks on the market, some versions of classic adult cookbooks, and some written just for kids by celebrity chefs. Grandparents can tackle recipes with their grandchildren, teaching them patience, teamwork, and even math skills.

The Celebrity Chef:
Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook by Paula Dean (Simon and Schuster, 2008)
Emeril's There’s a Chef in My Soup, by Emeril Lagasse (HarperCollins, 2005)

Classic:
Betty Crocker’s Kids Cooks (Betty Crocker, 2007)
Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens, 1997)

Kids:
The Everything Kids Cookbook, by Sandra Nissenberg (Adams Media Corporation, 2002)
The Spatulatta Cookbook, Isabella and Olivia Gerasole (Scholastic Reference, 2007)

Mom and Me Cookbook, by Annabel Karmel (DK Children, 2005)

Teenagers:
Cooking Up a Storm: The Teen Survival Cookbook, by Sam and Susan Stern (Candlewick, 2006)
The Everything College Cookbook, by Rhonda Lauret Parkinson (Adams Media 2005)
Teens Cook, by Megan Carle, Jill Carle, Judi Carle (Ten Speed Press, 2004)
Teens Cook Dessert, by Megan Carle, Jill Carle, Judi Carle (Ten Speed Press, 2005)
 
4. Tots' Kitchens
For toddlers who aren’t old enough to read a cookbook or to help grandma in the kitchen, a play kitchen can do just as much toward encouraging creativity and nurturing an interest in food and cooking. These interactive kitchens feature tiny versions of the real thing: stove cook-tops, ovens, pots, and pans.
 
Fisher-Price offers a selection of toy kitchens. The award-winning Learn and Laugh Kitchen will encourage your babies to cook up the magic. This kitchen lets babies crawl in and out while triggering music, sing-along sings and fun sounds. Ages 6 to 26 months.

Back to Basics offers a timeless wood kitchen, prefect for your grandchildren to whip up a batch of memories. Includes a mini-microwave, steel sink with moving facet, an oven rack with turning knobs and a refrigerator/freezer combo. Ages 3 and older.

Little Tikes’ Cook n’ Learn Interactive Kitchen comes with a cutting fruit salad set, a veggie stir-fry set, and a breakfast set, complete with toy silverware, fruit, recipe cards,  a skillet, and a spatula. Burners and cutting board recognize foods placed on them, encouraging vocabulary-building and creative play. Ages 3 and older.

Step 2 has a variety of kitchens in various sizes from Deluxe models to "Grand Walk-In" styles in a variety of price ranges complete with utensils and plastic food starter sets. There’s even one in the style of a 1950s diner.