By: Jen Russon
As students throughout South Florida prepare to head back to school, parents can add a teaspoon of culinary education in the mix, with the opening of the Young Chefs Academy of Coral Springs.
With nationwide locations and presence overseas, Young Chefs Academy promotes itself like a recipe:
“Food preparation skills is the main ingredient, with a heap of kitchen safety, a scoop of etiquette, a handful of table setting, a pinch of menu planning, and laughter to taste.”
The Coral Springs location, owned by Gayon and Willmour Daniel, opened in May and now that summer is winding down, has two special Grand Opening events planned this month.
Wrapping up its summer Camp-Can-I-Cook, the owners, who live in Coral Springs and have children who attend Eagle Ridge Elementary, said they are looking forward to introducing their curriculum to young cooks between the ages of 4 and 18.
The Daniels decided to open their YCA franchise when their two children, Dorinda, age 6 and Denali, age 9, showed a passion for the culinary arts.
“I love how much more willing they are to try new foods and experiment with new flavors since we started doing this,” said Gayon, who explained their cooking camps are multi-day, fully immersive, and 3 hours long.
“In 4 days, our students learn to prepare 15 to 20 recipes. We make things like Shepard’s pie, key lime cannoli cups, orange chicken and wonton soup – it’s really an introduction to foods around the world,” she said.
The Daniels went on to describe a friendly but competitive environment in which students earn patches and, eventually, a black chef’s jacket upon mastery of different cooking and baking skills.
Willmour elaborated more on what pupils can expect from their varied programs. Children learn to make a four-course meal, plan a menu and execute it flawlessly, adding that one of the bonuses is transforming formerly picky eaters into kids who are game to try anything.
Gayon laughs when she recalls how one of their students, a six-year-old girl, hated limes, and while she was fine with preparing key lime cannoli cups, she had no intention of eating one.
“Well, we got her to eat one, and she ended up loving it. She said ‘it’s only a hint of lime, I actually love this'”, laughed Gayon.
She said that although this student is “6 going on 25”, she uses safety knives and gloves. The older students who are preteens or middle and high school students also receive careful assessment before they can take a class.
“Some of our teenage students seem to really enjoy helping the younger ones,” said Gayon.
The Daniel’s 2,000 square foot facility, with its induction stoves, sparkling cooktops, and huge double ovens is located in the Cypress Wood Plaza on Atlantic Boulevard. So far the school has enrolled around 20 students who will be on hand to man their own kitchen stations at the official grand opening ceremony on August 24.
But before these students dazzle the crowd with their cupcakes, crepes and savory bites, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday – a chance for parents to learn more about the range of weekly classes and special workshops offered during the school year.
Mayor Scott Brook will do the ribbon-cutting honors and will be joined with city commission members and Julie Burleson, CEO, and founder of Young Chef’s Academy. Burleson’s smiling face and hands-on approach to teaching kids to cook can be found on the website, where classes and Chef’s Club Member packages can be booked online.
The Daniels family will also love to register new students at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, August 9, from 12 to 1 p.m. For those who miss that event, a second grand opening ceremony, “Ace the Taste” will offer light refreshments, samples, and giveaways on August 24, from 1 to 4 p.m.
The Young Chefs Academy of Coral Springs is located at 10412 W Atlantic Blvd. RSVPs are recommended by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (954) 302-7777.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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