Adolescent chefs for a day?

Joined Aug 29, 2000
I teach at a middle school (ages 11 - 13 or so). Every three years the parents' organization funds a Discovery Day. Teachers can propose fun and educational activities for kids, and the parents' group will fund busing and some other expenses. Last time I took some kids to a TV station, ice skating at our U.S. Olympic Ice Arena, and out to lunch at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant.

This time I'd like to design a culinary adventure. I'm thinking of trying to find a professional kitchen with a pro or two in it, to give the kids some demos and let them do some cooking as well. (Shroomgirl, the inspiration came from you!) Our local technical colleges have good culinary arts programs, so I thought of contacting them to ask if they can give us a day. We can limit the group to as few as 15. It would take place on a Friday in late May, after the tech schools' semester is over, I think. There would be at least one parent chaperone with me for every 15 kids along.

Any other ideas for people to approach? I'd love to find a restaurant kitchen, but can't think anyone would want to turn it over us on a Friday! A catering establishment? Who else??? The only other limitation is that it needs to be located in Southeastern Wisconsin, within about a 2 hour drive of Milwaukee.

Am I crazy? :crazy:
Joined Mar 4, 2000
A Friday may be tough, esp. at that time of year, but depending on the time of day, you may be able to borrow a restaurant for an hour or so. I guess if you aim for earlier in the day, with a rest. that only serves dinner, you may have a chance. Make some calls; you have nothing to lose.

Maybe as a way of thanking the chef, you can have the kids do some prep work for dinner.:)
Joined May 29, 1999
Look up the American Institute of Wine and Food,
they have a program called Days of Taste. It just may be what you are looking for!
Joined May 26, 2001
How far are you from Madison? Odessa Piper, the chef at L'Etoile, is the kind of person who would be a great role model/example, especially for the girls. (And the boys might gain some respect for the girls, too.) She's a major proponent of using local, seasonal foods. I don't know if she could accomodate having your group actually cook, but she'd be a great person to talk to your group. She might have other suggestions of what to show your kids, too. Also, isn't there a really good farmers' market in Madison?
Joined Oct 20, 2001
I worked for an up and coming restaurant chain called Biaggi's. They just opened a restaurant in Madison...601 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717 Phone (608) 664-9288 Fax (608) 664-0024

I had a group of six and seven year olds spend two hours at the restaurant. They made their own 8" pizzas, took them on a tour of the kitchen, and did a little demonstration cooking for them. We didn't charge the school anything. We also made up little take out bags with goodies for the kids and for their parents (great advertising!)

What time of day are you looking to do this? Biaggi's doesn't open until 11:00am. If you can show up early (8 or 9ish) I would think it wouldn't be a problem. If you're interested, call the restaurant and ask to speak to the G.M. (they might call it managing partner)

This could work with a number of restaurants in your area if they are only open for lunch and dinner.

Hope this helps. :bounce:



Joined Apr 4, 2000
It sounds like fun Mezz, hope you'll find a place who will let the kids come into the kitchen. I am a bit weary that for insurrance reason some might not agree.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Yup, liability will be a big issue I think. Teens and knives/equipement could be an iffy combo. At my school, the a-la-carte kitchen is not always occupied. MAybe you could schedule something with a culinary school restaurant on a day during the study break or during exams. It might be more teen-friendly than a restaurant. (heck, the kids I go to school with behave like pre-teens so how bad can it get, right?) ;)
Joined Oct 28, 1999
Have you given any thought to the corporate sector? I teach a class for pre-k, kindergarten and 1st grade once a month. They really get a kick out of seeing huge steam jacketed kettles and monster piles of food. A lot of the corporate units (like Sodexho, Ararmark, etc) invite community relations.
If it sounds interesting, I would suggest finding one of the larger companies around town and getting in touch w/the food service director; most decent size office buildings/plants have some type of cafeteria set up. I am sure they will need approval from their client, but that shouldn't be a problem.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Rick, THANKS! I'll give it a shot. A pizza place would be just right for kids, I think, as most of them think it's the most important food group.

Jim, your idea is great too. I'll do some checking around. Thanks!

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