Culinary Camps Stir Up Fun for Kids
Children’s forays into cooking might be making mud pies in the backyard but there’s no reason they can’t progress to baking bread, whipping up a stew or tossing together a stir fry. In fact, helping kids acquire cooking skills is a long-term gift as well as an investment in their health. It’s also a bonus for mom and dad if the kids decide to cook supper on occasion.
Thanks to a batch of culinary camps, summer can be an excellent time for kids to develop skills in the kitchen. They’ll learn about safety and nutrition as well as how to prepare a variety of recipes. And in some cases, they’ll bring home those tasty treats to share with the family.
For 15 years, the Académie Culinaire has been offering cooking camps for young people ages 8-17 at its location in Old Montreal. Younger children learn basic cooking skills while exploring one country’s cuisine in depth. Because the camp selects a new country each summer, children can return year after year and still develop new culinary talents. There are also baking and sushi workshops in every weeklong session. The young cooks bring home samples of their efforts, along with copies of the recipes so they can reproduce the dishes at home.
The program for teenagers is designed to help them achieve self-sufficiency in the kitchen. Mornings are spent preparing and serving a snack and then a three-course lunch for the approximately 70 campers, which allow those interested in pursuing work in the food industry to get an idea of what’s involved. During the afternoons, teens focus on a particular skill or cuisine, with the goal of giving them the knowledge and ability to cook well, with or without a recipe.
Campers spend most of the day in the kitchen, with a break for lunch. The camps are in French and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with before and after care available from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $500 a week. For more information, call (514) 393-8111 or go to www.academieculinaire.com.
Chef en Vous
Chef en Vous is a company that uses cooking workshops as a team-building exercise for corporate clients but this summer they are reaching out to a younger audience with weeklong programs for children ages 8-17.
At the company’s downtown location (not far from the Charlevoix metro), children will learn basic safety techniques and then embark on various cooking adventures, tackling everything from pastries to sushi. Campers make their lunches and then bring home samples for the family. Apart from cooking, they will also play at a local park, go rock-climbing and participate in a treasure hunt.
Chefs at the camp are bilingual and campers are encouraged to speak both languages. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $400. For more information, call Julie Rouillard at (514) 303-9801 or go to www.chefenvous.com.
Kid’s Culinary Academy of Vermont
Families interested in a sleepover (residential) camp with a focus on the culinary arts need look no further than the Kid’s Culinary Academy of Vermont. The camp, which is about a 90-minute drive from Montreal, has been around since 1996. It offers one and two-week sessions for children ages 9 and up.
Campers learn to cook all kinds of dishes from soups and salads, to pies, cookies and pastries. They also learn about organic gardening, composting, beekeeping, and shitake mushroom growing on site and enjoy excursions to local attractions in the area. There are morning chores, like gathering eggs, as well as time for games and play.
The camp costs $2,650 US for one week or $4,900 for two weeks. The fees include a professional knife set, chef’s clothes and a sleeping bag.
For more information, call Kelly Dietrich at (802) 868-3030 or go to www.kidssummercampforcooking.com.