“I wanted to teach them real skills real skills with real recipes,” says Hilit Nurick about the children who take courses at Culinary Kids, her company that offers children a place to learn to cook, bake and love food. “I decided not to treat the kids as kids…. I would not teach them to make sandwiches or hard boiled eggs with olive eyes.”
Instead, children learn about the art of making bread, including the differences between yeast and quick breads. They learn how to make pesto from fresh basil grown in Hilit’s garden, served with pasta or as a spread on a toasted garlic baguette. The kids make whole-wheat rosemary crackers, different flavoured focaccias, and soups with vegetables that are in season, pasta sauces and delicious desserts. “I wanted to teach them that food does not come from boxes, but rather from the earth.”
In her early thirties, Hilit fell in love with the kitchen. She began making everything from scratch and decided to pursue culinary arts, graduating from culinary school in Isreal and specializing in pastry. In 2005, Hilit, along with her husband and three children, immigrated to Vancouver, where she continued her culinary education, enrolling in The Art Institute of Vancouver’s Dubrulle Culinary Arts pastry program, which included a practicum at the Pan Pacific Hotel.
Once out of school, Hilit wanted to pursue her passion for culinary arts, but also could fit in her life as a busy mom of three children. A friend offered her a position at a community centre teaching children to cook and bake – a great combination of her love of children, cooking and baking, and the early seeds for her idea to start Culinary Kids.
Today, Culinary Kids offers a variety of courses with a different focus. Each course is comprised of four lessons. “We have four lessons on breads (baking from scratch), four lessons on soups and starters, four lessons on main dishes and four lessons on desserts.” Hilit believes that this approach provides children with the opportunity to learn and practice skills. Each lesson is between two to three hours, and at the end, students eat their creations together. The kids also leave with the recipes and newfound skills and confidence in the kitchen. Each course of four lessons costs $180.
Hilit was particularly surprised by the parents’ reactions. “Parents started flocking in, to get a taste of whatever it was we made… and would tell me how their kids had started eating things that they never would have touched before.”
Culinary Kids also offers hands-on birthday party experiences at the child’s own home. Hilit arrives with all the equipment and ingredients, and everyone spends two to three hours cooking and/or baking together. At the end of the party, the kids eat their own creations. The cost can range from $250 to $400.
Hilit’s trick for cooking with kids? Show them the process since kids find the journey from fresh ingredients to a meal fascinating. She’ll bring fresh herbs into the kitchen and encourage the kids to touch them, smell them with their eyes closed and guess what herbs they are, as well as what they remind them of before showing them how to chiffonade. When tasting the herb in the finished product, she’ll ask the kids to compare it to the original scent. Kids always find this process exciting and “They always come back for more.”
Culinary Kids philosophy is simple: By teaching kids that food doesn’t come out of a box with a long list of incomprehensible ingredients a mile long, children will have tools for their whole lives. “When they go to college, they won’t have to live on junk food, but will have the requisite tools to eat healthy food that they can make on their own. It’s really very simple – healthier eating habits should lead to healthier kids and healthier lives for all.”
Image courtesy of www.sweetspot.ca
6257 Dunbar Street, Vancouver, BC V6N 1X3
Tel: 778-998-3530 | www.culinarykids.ca