What’s Cracking with the Young Chefs Academy

What’s Cracking with the Young Chefs Academy

Give your kiddo a stirring experience—one that also encompasses chopping, kneading, and baking—with action-packed supervised cooking classes at Young Chefs Academy (YCA). Interactive instruction in an energized environment develops confidence and sparks creativity as children develop life-long culinary skills. From learning to crack and separate an egg to making a roux for mac ’n’ cheese baked in muffin tins, progressive lessons (seasoned with plenty of fun) build a foundation of gastronomic knowledge.

Broadening gustatory preferences is also a plus for families with picky eaters: Foods that might be refused at home often gain appeal when kids go hands-on with preparations in the super-clean and attentively supervised kitchen. “It’s amazing,” says Lead Chef Instructor and YCA Allentown Manager Christina Kjellberg. “And their tastes keep getting bolder.”

The first Pennsylvania participant in the YCA franchise opened at the Tilghman Square Shopping Center in late 2018, offering weekly classes, birthday parties, and field trip experiences for youth groups. Class levels determined by age start with KinderCooks for those 5 (or nearly so, depending on maturity) to 7, then move to JuniorChefs for students 7 and up. The SeniorChefs class level is attained by abilities. (A viewing window gives adults the option to watch classes before being invited to sample results.) Students receive a binder to keep printed recipes from each class, and Kjellberg—who has formal training as a dietitian and nutritionist—is delighted when kids report tweaking and experimenting with the recipes at home.


The curriculum builds knowledge well beyond proper kitchen safety and food handling, delving into math (changing recipe proportions), history (where and how a dish originated), and science (understanding how living yeast works in baked goods). Students learn table setting and etiquette, and a lively game of charades addresses table manners.

From June to August, Culinary Camp provides immersive 3-hour classes that run Monday through Thursday. Entertaining themes that change every week cover a wide range of culinary topics and styles, from learning about Food Truck specialties to an introduction to Gourmet Food—ensuring fresh adventures and learning opportunities each day.


There’s no ageism in this kitchen! Adults-only “Young Chefs at Heart” monthly workshops make a terrific girls-night-out: Acquire new skills during engaging, theme-based 2-hour sessions— including popular holiday-focused baked goods—and taste the results.


3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6–7 lemons)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
5 oz. frozen strawberries, pureed
2 cups sparkling water, chilled
1 pint vanilla ice cream
4 slices lemon for garnish

Pour the lemon juice through a strainer and into a serving pitcher.
Add water and sugar to pitcher. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add strawberry puree and stir to mix. Pour in sparkling water and stir gently to blend.
To serve, scoop 1/2 cup portions of ice cream into 4 tall glasses and top with the strawberry lemonade. Garnish each glass with a lemon slice.

Yields 4 large floats
Adapted from a Young Chefs® Academy recipe


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