Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review: Young Chefs Academy of Fort Worth

So I bought the Groupon for the Young Chefs Academy of Fort Worth. I finally got Maddie enrolled in a class. I had never heard of it before and thought it would be really neat for my four (almost five)-year-old to do because it's all about cooking and she loves to help me in the kitchen.

It was a little hard to get her registered, only because they seem to never answer the phone at the Young Chefs Academy. I guess they're too busy "cooking up fun in the kitchen." But they did return my calls every time I called, albeit the next day or two after I called and left a message. Would have loved to have been able to register her through their website, but you can't do that if you're using a Groupon

Anyway, I was finally able to register her and my mother and I took her to the KinderCooks class yesterday. The place looked really neat. All the cabinets were painted different bright colors. Everything looked neat and clean. They looked well-prepared because they had all their ingredients ready to go. Chef Jeff was all set to go when the other 9 or 10 kids came piling into the class.

He helped them all wash their hands and put on their cutesy little aprons. And then the class started. It was off to a good start. He explained to them about measuring a cup of flour and how you have to tap, tap, tap and scrape it off to get an even cup. Each kid had to measure and dump the flour into the bowl.

Then, unfortunately, that's where the informative part went bye-bye. When the not-so-happy-to-be "cooking up fun in the kitchen" employee came into the room to help Chef Jeff. For some reason or another, it didn't seem so fun anymore. She took the bowls and the measuring cup and went around to each table and had them do the same thing again. But she wasn't very nice about it. It was more like, Here, do it and then pass the tools to the next kid. And so it went for about an hour or so. Each time they started at the table to their right. The poor kids at the table to their left got to do hardly anything - they tore up bacon - whoop whoop!

I was sitting there thinking, I'm glad I did not pay full price for this, when one of the other mother's said, Is anybody else underwhelmed at this point? I thought, OMG, this lady is like Sookie from True Blood...she can read my mind. So all of us moms started talking about how we thought it would be more informative...that they would teach the kids more things about cooking - not just have them dump ingredients into a bowl. Maybe they would say, This is cinnamon, kids; cinnamon is a spice; it comes from trees (or wherever it comes from). Not just dump and pass.

Then...get of the little girls kept standing up on her barstool to kind of look in the bowl so she could stir it. The "teachers" asked her a few times to sit down. Her mother went in and whispered something in her ear (which I'm sure was to have her sit down). The little girl was not disruptive - she was not interfering with the class at all. The sourpuss employee goes around the table, picks the girl up, moves her to the side and then grabs her barstool and takes it away...makes the kid stand the rest of the time!! I couldn't believe it. Totally embarrassed the little girl - her demeanor totally changed.

Listen, I'm all for people getting onto kids when they're doing something wrong. There's a right way and a wrong way to do it. That was the WRONG way. Young Chefs Academy is not the place to discipline other people's children.

The mom didn't see all this go down. She asked me, Did she just take her stool away? I said, Yes. After a few minutes the mom went in there and gave her daughter her stool back and told the sourpuss that she could have gone about that whole ordeal in a nicer way. The mom then proceeded to have a talk with the owner of the place...thank goodness.

At this point, that's when the owner took over the class. She saved it. Made it fun. Was very informative. Explained things to the kids. Made it worth the $15 or so I paid.

My suggestion to the owner of Young Chefs Academy of Fort Worth: use recipes that have way, way, way, way less ingredients than French Toast Cupcakes; have smaller classes if possible; fire the sourpuss. Your classes will never be enjoyable for little kids if you have an employee working there who absolutely does not want to be there.

My suggestion for parents taking their kids to Young Chefs Academy of Fort Worth: stay while the class is going on and sit in that little area that you're supposed to sit in and watch the class. If things aren't going like you think they should, go find the owner.

As for me and my kids, I don't think we'll be back.

This young chefs idea is a great concept. It could be so fun for little kids. You've got to have people working there that want to be there, that want the little kids to have fun and to learn something in the process.


Anonymous said...

Thanks!! They are offering another groupon and I was seriously thinking about dropping $150 on the $50 certificate for $25.00 (essentially 50% off, giving me $300 to spend at Young Chefs Academy for $150.00). I, too left a message for FW location. I was told that FW local does not open until 1pm.
Being an obnoxious Chicago expat, I will definitely stay and make sure everything goes well if I do choose to venture into YCA. I though that their summer camps sound great but do not know when the Groupon vouchers expire? A little vague.
It sounds as if someone needs to open up another franchise (I'm in Trophy Club area)...& hire better staff.

Jill :)

Chef Melissa said...

Hello and thank you for looking into Young Chefs Academy. I am sorry the Living Social Ad is not clear enough, you may use the $50 certificate for a camp this summer or for spring break. I do want to let you know that that you can only use one certificate at a time for each event. Please let me know if you have more questions. We only have one line and many calls, so please leave a message with the answering service and we will get right back to you asap. I am the owner of this location and want to let everyone rest assured that the description in this blog is NOT what happened. Well okay, the kids did measure, and use many ingredients, it is cooking and we do not do simple recipe as we want everyone to participate and have lots to do. We take safety very seriously and the welfare of all children coming into our school. If a child is standing on a stool their leg can slid through and they can break their leg, so for that reason we warn the child 2 times that they need to sit on their bottom, and tell them that we will take the stool for 2-5 minutes depending on the age if they can not sit. Usually this will do it. As their safety is our of up most importance. We want all children to experience the joy, value and fun of cooking. We have MANY happy students that have been cooking with us for years each week. This was one parent that came into the store and was determined to have a bad experience. We had parents leaving the room and later tell me that she was just riling things up for no apparent reason. I would be happy to offer references as well as parents can come watch a class any time and can stay while their child is cooking. Before making a decision based on this blog please look at the other lovely posts on this blog, nothing is positive.

Laurie said...

Shame on you!! The information you posted on your blog is totally incorrect. My daughter is enrolled in the Kindercooks class and we have never had anything except positive experiences there. The quality and educational value of their classes is superb. I have a PhD and I taught gifted students for 20 years. I carefully evaluate the educational value of any activity, as well as the staff before jumping into the registration process. The classes at YCA far exceed my expectations. My daughter thrives in the environment they provide. I have witnessed how the teachers handle discipline issues and they are totally appropriate in their approach and have never humiliated a child. As a matter of fact, they should be praised for their efforts because most other educators would not have been so tolerant. As for the content of the recipes, perhaps the writer should go home and try to make these. They are simply delicious. More importantly Chef Melissa strives to provide recipes that are more nutritionally balanced than the regular old cookie recipes. My highest compliments to Chef Melissa, Chef Angie, and Chef Jeff. They are wonderful and deserve all of the praise that comes their way. Obviously the writer of this blog did not go the Young Chefs Academy that my daughter is enrolled in on Camp Bowie Road in Fort Worth. Perhaps the writer may want to try it. You never know, you just might like it.

I Am Nacho Mama said...

And to Jill or whoever else might want to take their kids to a Young Chefs Academy, by all means do it. It's a fun idea. I would just stay and watch your kids have fun - that is all.

I Am Nacho Mama said...

The owner of this establishment was not in the room at the time so I don't know how she can say this is not what happened.

If you read my full blog post, I go on to say that the owner saved the day and made the class very enjoyable.