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Petite Chefs

Kids can become kitchen masters with the help of Chow Bella Kids.


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Christina Shook

“Eeww …,” nine students squeal in unison, giggling as they dip bread into a gooey egg mixture. It’s banana and blueberry French toast day at Chow Bella Kids in Lafayette, where boys and girls ages eight through 11 scoop, mash, dip, fry, and finally, devour their creations during an intensive one and a half hour cooking class.

“The hands-on aspect is really important,” says Elaine Smit, a Moraga mom who turned a cooking hobby into personal chef and catering businesses, and now, kids cooking classes.

In the large modernized catering kitchen Smit rents, students do it all—smashing blueberries and bananas, whisking eggs, and even cooking over the kitchen’s new six-burner stove.

“I think at this stage, it’s so important to instill a love for food,” says Smit. “More important techniques can be learned down the road.” She does teach plenty of tips and tricks, though, from how to zest a lemon to coring an apple with a melon baller.

Kids seven years old and up can register for a five- or 10-week course ($175 or $300), or drop in for $35, space permitting. During the spring program, kids will create berry yogurt parfaits, pizzas from scratch, lettuce wraps, veggie and pasta soup, and some fun desserts. Smit also runs summer cooking camps and hosts parties. And starting this spring, she’ll teach a Mom and Me class for adults to take with kids ages three to six.  

At the end of class, as the delicately browned French toast slides onto plates, along with sides of yogurt, honey, and syrup, the kids cheer with oohs and aahs. The French toast “sandwich,” filled with blueberries and bananas, resembles a restaurant brunch entrée. But as the kids discover, it’s even better: Everything tastes better when you make it yourself.

For information, go to chowbellakids.net.

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