Ski towns across the nation are taking a cue from school garden and recreational cooking school programs and providing hands-on classes for children ages 4 and up. Unlike the glorified babysitting classes of yore, which focused on "kid-friendly" fare like mac and cheese and English muffin pizzas, these courses are the real deal. Curbed Ski had a chance to observe one of the popular classes offered at Aspen's The Little Nell (one of our 38 Essential Ski Town Hotels) and it more closely resembled a group of very short line cooks working a shift in trattoria. Whether in Aspen or in Vermont, kids cooking classes are all the rage.
Instructor/cookbook author/Aspen resident Helen DeFrance oversees the Nell classes, which have proven so popular they've been extended throughout the winter/spring season. DeFrance made a name for herself teaching cooking to children (most notably at Tennessee's Blackberry Farm) and her intuitive, hands-on approach gives kids more than just kitchen skills. The classes build confidence, teach children to work independently and as a team, and encourage them to create healthy, seasonal meals. Says DeFrance, "Each class features lessons on how to prepare both savory and sweet items, It's all about being comfortable in the kitchen. Kids learn to follow recipes, measure, mix and chop, and they bring home fun and delicious recipes." Bonus: Parents join the students for a sit-down meal post-class. Upcoming themes ($30 per student) include Valentine's Day, Easter, and Picnic. Interested? Send an email here.
Where else can kids get their cook on? On March 6, as part of its Culinary Festival, Colorado's Keystone Resort is offering a hands-on Kids in the Kitchen Cooking Class for families. And over in Utah, Jaxon Stallard of the Park City Cooking School offers classes for kids and teens including a cooking camp (would-be bakers and pastry chefs will want to take advantage of the school's High Altitude Baking class).
At Vermont's The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa less than 45 minutes from Stowe and Sugarbush, Camp Cook is a weeklong hands-on summer program tailored to kids 10 and up. Gardening, a field trip to a local farm, and take-home recipe book and chef's jacket are included; special holiday classes are also offered.
-By Laurel Miller