Cooking is one of those magical activities that can bridge the gap between generations. Most of us have a story about that favorite dish from a family member and how it left an impression on us while growing up. I remember my mom and grandmother demonstrating their cooking methods for me so I could learn. By the age of 9, I was cooking my own meals.
Children love exploring and experimenting, and cooking is a great way to do these things during their most formative years. It’s also a sneaky way to slip some education into parent-child time, as cooking involves math (measuring ingredients), science (the way things react when combined) and even social skills (cooperating with others).
Taste Buds Kitchen in North Andover is a great place to start your kids’ culinary learning experience. Owner Laurel Holmes and assistant manager Andrea D’Angelo work directly with their teachers and assistants to provide the best possible classes. In addition to what they offer in-house, they have several programs at nearby schools that combine academics with the fun of cooking.
Just looking at the excitement of local students they reach, it’s clear that this involvement in the Merrimack Valley community is appreciated. I walked into a private class at the establishment and was greeted by shrieks of laughter and excited chatter. The menu responsible for such joy: mac and cheese cupcakes as a savory dish, and snowman cupcakes for dessert.
Taste Buds’ teaching methods focus on interactivity between the children and their teachers, each of whom has a distinct personality and range of abilities. Teacher Mina Patel and assistant Saige Schrater were both working when I entered their class, and both took a hands-on approach with the kids. They let them explore how cooking affected their five senses, and explained why ingredients react in certain ways.
Holmes says all ages are welcome to take part in classes at Taste Buds, joking that students range in age from “2 to 99.” There are multiple class options, ranging from parent and child classes for toddlers to advanced lessons for older kids. Parents also have the option of asking for private classes depending on their individual needs.
Taste Buds Kitchen offers weeklong camps during school vacations, each with specific menus and choices for children to enjoy. With an excellent child-to-teacher ratio, each youngster is able to get individual attention, while also being part of a group. Since the kitchen is nut-free, it also means children with nut allergies can participate without fear.
If you can’t make the trip to North Andover, don’t worry: The Merrimack Valley has a variety of options for parents who want to enroll their children in cooking classes. Other great choices include The Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Verrill Farm in Concord and The Culinary Playground in Derry, N.H., all of which offer innovative culinary classes for a range of ages, skills and interests.
Taste Buds Kitchen
North Andover, Mass.
The Roudenbush Community Center, Inc.
The Culinary Playground