Culinary Kids Academy

By / Photography By Jenny Acheson | November 01, 2012
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Culinary Kids Academy

I was well into adulthood before I learned to cook. As a child I subsisted on either elaborate gourmet meals like osso bucco prepared by my stepdad when he was in town, or frozen microwaveable meals purchased by Mom when he was traveling for work. Consequently, I concluded that cooking was either a massive time-consuming project or a major inconvenience, and either way, it wasn’t worth my time. I wish I could have had a program like Culinary Kids Academy in my life back then; I likely would have discovered my passion for food much earlier in life.

Culinary Kids Academy is a labor of love founded by Jill Collins and Cindy Snyder. Cindy, who owns the Star Keeper Café, has a passion for serving comfort food inspired by her childhood that is still nutritious and made up of fresh, choice ingredients. Jill, the director of nutrition for All Faiths Food Bank, has devoted her career to helping low-income families enjoy food that is healthy yet affordable. Their collaboration began years ago, when Jill began designing a curriculum for hands-on cooking classes that would assist low-income families in purchasing great ingredients and preparing delicious, nutritious meals on a food stamp budget. Cindy was Jill’s very first volunteer chef instructor. Their classes were such a success that other families in the community began to clamor for something that would be open to everyone, and so the idea for Culinary Kids Academy was born.

kid chefs learning

Culinary Kids Academy offers a variety of classes for kids of all age groups. Storybook Cooks serves children ages 3 to 6. The 60-minute session includes a story that ties in to the day’s cooking lesson. The 75-minute Big Chef/Small Chef classes are designed for an adult and child pair, so families can experience the fun of working together. And the 90-minute Junior Chef (6- to 11-year-olds) and Teen Chef (for ages 12 to 18) courses provide hands-on cooking experience. All classes have some commonalities.

Two recipes are prepared in each class and participants get to take home the accompanying recipe cards. The fare prepared is tasty while also being nutritious. And no matter the age group, each participant gets to participate fully in the cooking process. All classes are kept small so that the students get plenty of time with their instructors. And if you want something that’s more tailored to your specific needs, you can plan a party or design your own event.

Culinary Kids Academy demystifies the cooking process and helps kids learn at a young age the importance of knowing where your food comes from. This innovative program will no doubt make a huge impact on our community in the years to come. Visit their website at to sign up for classes and learn about ongoing special events.

Star Keeper Cafe: 1734 Bamboo Ln, Sarasota; 941-600-1464;

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