Cooking classes for Kids

With a great passion for cooking, Naomi Ward has years of experience in the hospitality industry. She has worked as a chef and has trained them too.

In 2003, deciding it was time for a change, she purchased Etcetera in New Plymouth. The shop specialises in tableware and kitchenware.

The first thing to add to the shop was a kitchen. Naomi started holding classes in the evening for adults looking to expand their cooking skills. These proved popular and within 18 months she decided to introduce children’s cooking classes. “My children are all great cooks and I’m now working on the grandchildren.”

“I am passionate about children learning to cook in this day and age. They need the basics of cooking for when they go flatting or move on to university.”

cooking-class-2Following Naomi to the kitchen area of the shop, I find six children, with their aprons on, patiently waiting to start baking.

“Today’s class is chocolate decorating. We will make chocolate muffins following the steps of a recipe. While these are baking we will make chocolate crackles. Once the muffins are cool, you can create chocolate designs to decorate the muffins and use different coloured icings and sprinkles. We then have dried apricots, banana pieces and pineapple to dip in the remaining chocolate. You will take all your creations home with you, along with a copy of all the recipes we have used today.”

The questions come thick and fast once cooking is under way. The children are eager to bake and, of course, taste!

By the time everyone has had a turn at adding ingredients and stirring, the muffin mixture is spooned into the muffin tins. Each child is doing four muffins.

While the muffins cook, the children are busy making chocolate crackles. Naomi has ingeniously worked out a colour for each child and they are able to fill eight mini baking cups each.

A plastic bag, snipped at the corner, makes a great piping bag. The children are soon busy, with milk and white chocolate, making patterns on their greaseproof paper.
Yellow and pink icing caps the muffins. Next some of the children have used M & M’s while others have chosen the sprinkles. Their chocolate creations, now hardened, are added.

The microwave is kept busy with Naomi softening the chocolate as the children dip their fruit and lay it on their greaseproof paper to dry.

All too soon it is time to pack up. Suddenly some of the children realise they haven’t brought their containers and Naomi quickly sets to with serviettes and paper bags to ensure safe transportation of their creations.

Parents come to pick up their children and many exclamations are made about the wonderful designs.

Another class is over and Naomi is left to clean up and do the dishes before the next class, due to start in an hour.

Every two months Naomi puts out a newsletter advertising classes.

Cooking books for children

Getting children to eat is always a battle, no matter what their age.  One way to tackle the problem is getting the children interested in cooking their own food. There are many cookbooks and websites available.

Kate Wadsworth, Wadsworths Bookcentre Ltd, New Plymouth, advised that the most popular books they sell are:-

Australian Woman’s Weekly – Kids in the Kitchen, RRP: $25.00 flexi-bound softcover

“With easy instructions and step-by-step photographs, this book teaches kids how to make everything from biscuits and cakes to dinner for the family.  There are fabulous pizzas, tacos, sensational open sandwiches, Mother’s Day breakfast and much more.  This is the starting point for the next generation of celebrity chefs.”

Edmonds Beginner’s Cookbook, RRP: $25.00 spiral book

The much-loved Edmonds ‘junior’ cookbooks have now been fully updated with 20 brand new recipes. All are easy to prepare and, with simple step-by-step instructions, great for learning to cook. Not only do kids and beginner-cooks want fun foods – they want to have fun making the recipes. Every page in this cookbook contains photographs, illustrations and great colour – all appealing to today’s kids and teenagers. With Edmonds you can feel confident that the recipes will work, that your kids will enjoy themselves, and that your kitchen will stay in one piece! A must for all young aspiring chefs.”

Another book that our family use a lot is:-

The Junior Cook by Family Circle, RRP: $12.95 A4 size book

So, it’s time you learnt to cook. Whether you want to bake a batch of banana muffins for your mum, make a roast chicken for your friends, or astonish your sister with your cunning chicken cacciatore, our step-by-step pictures show you exactly how it’s done.  But let’s start with the easy stuff.  Our ‘how to’ chapter gives away some of those kitchen secrets … how to stop your cake sticking to the tin, how to make a lump-free gravy, how to cook pasta that isn’t gluggy and  – the biggest and best-kept secret of all ‘how to boil a perfect egg.’

Usborne Internet-Linked Children’s World Cookbook

A new kind of cookbook incorporating the use of the internet is The Usborne Internet-Linked Children’s World Cookbook.  It is a fascinating book enabling the children to discover the countries as well as recipes in an entertaining and interactive way.

“This book includes more than 40 simple, delicious recipes from around the world.  There’s lots of information on what is traditionally eaten in different countries and the ingredients that are used. You’ll also find fascinating photographs of places, from floating markets in Thailand to Italian delicatessens, Mexican food markets to exotic fruits and spices.

All the recipes and lists of ingredients can be downloaded from .”


New Plymouth – Etcetera

Classes have a maximum of eight children per class from 5-year-olds upwards. You can bring your own apron or they can be supplied.  At the beginning of the class there is a discussion on hygiene. Great importance is placed on washing hands and cleaning benches. During the two hours of the class the children will spend time baking and decorating. Remember to bring a container to safely transport their creations home.
Themed parties are proving popular. Guests make their food and then take it to the party to enjoy. One group met at the shop with their sleeping bags, baked and went on to the birthday girl’s house to eat it as a midnight snack. Classes are $18 per child for 2 hours of creativity. This includes all ingredients. Naomi Ward, 18 Devon St East, New Plymouth, Phone : 06 758 6957, Email :

Auckland – Selwyn Community Education is based at Selwyn College in Auckland’s eastern suburb of Kohimarama. No longer runs cooking classes. However they do have art and music classes. For more details contact them on: (09) 521 9623, Fax: (09) 521 9624, Email: Street Address: 203-245 Kohimarama Road, Kohimarama. Postal Address:  PO Box 25 744, St Heliers, Auckland 1740

Auckland – Parnell Studio runs a course called Little Chefs. The course runs for 10 weeks during term.  Little chefs provides  aprons, menus, ingredients, kitchenware and produce.  Each lesson is for 1 1/2  hrs at a cost of $380 for the term.

They inspire children to be hands-on in the kitchen.  This dynamic course is unique and tailored for the junior chef.  It teaches important life skills, offers confidence in the kitchen and provides valuable information about sourcing ingredients, reading labels, understanding nutritional values and offers sound food preparation.  Students will learn how to use a variety of cooking accessories and equipment with skill and care.  They will be shown how to create culinary delights with flair and imagination. Call Keren Cook, Phone : 09 524 2460, Cell : 021 460 775, Email

Dunedin –  Joanna’s passion for cooking has inspired many people over the years to improve their own skills. This winter is a great opportunity to learn more about cookery in the Garvan Kitchen. Please contact Garvan Cooking School for details of our new classes. NZ$49.00 per person, NZ$20.00 kids cooking. Groups of six people or more can arrange a private cooking class tailored to suit the group.

Joanna Lowrey’s Cooking History –  Joanna has drawn on nearly 20 years’ experience. Former Executive Chef at The Park Royal Hotel, Sydney, owner of a catering company in South Canterbury ‘Chef on The Run’, Polytechnic Chef Tutor at Aoraki Timaru, Chef Trainer for the South Pacific Hotel in Papua New Guinea and mother of two children.

Her food is influenced by the experiences working in and with people from Europe, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and urban New Zealand, while her character was baked in the farmhouse kitchen of rural South Canterbury.

Joanna started out at age eight cooking for shearers on the farm and filling the cake tins. She entered her first cooking competition at 12 years of age and won the adult section. Her recipe was published in Alison Holst’s cookbook Lamb Tastic. At age 16 she started at the Hyatt Kingsgate in Queenstown as a kitchen-hand before going to Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin to start her chef’s career.  She is currently owner, with her husband, of Garvan Hotel, Fine Dining Restaurant and Cooking School at Lovells Flat, 30 minutes south of Dunedin City Airport.

Garvan Hotel, State Highway 1, Lovells Flat, RD2, Milton.E-mail:, Web:  Phone: 03 417 8407, Fax: 03 417 8408
Christchurch – New Zealand School of Food & Wine is registered as a Private Training Establishment with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

The Director is Celia Hay, BA, MBA, a qualified chef and restaurateur who has used her experience in the hospitality industry to develop a range of courses targeted to provide students with the skills and information they need whether for a career in the industry or to know more about the preparation and enjoyment of food and wine. / part-time courses / part-time cooking classes / kids in the kitchen. The kids in the kitchen classes are designed for 12-15-year-olds. The Director, The New Zealand School of Food and Wine, Box 25-217, Christchurch.  63 Victoria Street, Phone (03) 379 7501, Fax (03) 366 2302.

Christchurch – are looking at setting up classes within New Zealand using schools’ technical block kitchens.  At the moment they are based in Christchurch and can be contacted on ph 03 322 1088 for any further enquiries.

WEBSITES:-    – Home – Parenting Info – Child’s Play – Kids in the Kitchen. There are many recipes and great ideas to get the children involved in the cooking process.    – (Under popular collections) Kids in the Kitchen. There are 25 recipes involving Watties products for everyone to enjoy.  – Just for Kids. There are competitions, games to play, fact sheets and screensavers.    Host Allyson Gofton – In the “Featuring This Month” there is a Kids in the Kitchen section which features 6 recipes using Watties products. is a wonderful website for all kitchen equipment for children.  From aprons to recipe books to shape cutters – there is something there for everyone.  There are even great gift sets available for a birthday present with a difference. has “get creative” for colouring in, puzzles and dot to dot, “get cooking” where you will find easy recipes, “get active” doing physical things and “food facts” talking about good nutrition and eating healthy.  has great ideas on encouraging the children to help out with cooking meals.  There are a few recipes and loads of information on how to positively encourage your children in the kitchen, including how to set up a family cooking roster.

This article was published in Kids Friendly NZ August 2007 on-line edition

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