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  Mix Mastering  
  Turn your kids into foodies, so they can tantalize their taste buds, practice their math skills, and—with any luck—cook you dinner.  
     
  BY SARAH BERNARD  
     
 

When your kids are ready to graduate from Easy-Bake ovens or “helping” with dinner by expertly licking the bowl, turn them on to actual cooking with the surprisingly large array of children’s culinary classes the city has to offer. For toddlers up to teens, they teach technique, broaden the palate, and give future foodies the confidence to experiment with their own creations. (Peanut butter and bacon, anyone?) So whether your youngsters become head chefs or simply makers of a mean pesto sauce, at least they’ll leave the nest with more than your stash of takeout menus.

• Even the tiniest chefs can learn to mix and measure at the Art Farm in the City (419 E. 91st St.; 212-410-3117), where youngsters ages 6 months to 7 years get to play with resident critters—hamsters, bunnies, garden turtles—before retreating to a country kitchen to whip up graham crackers, cookies, muffins, and pretzels. Call for class schedules and fees.

The Mixing Bowl (243 E. 82nd St.; 212-585-2433) offers a range of classes for 21⁄2-to-9-year-olds on a semester basis. Menus include everything from mini-quiches to the ever-popular baked doughnuts with sprinkles. “Our philosophy is learning through cooking,” says owner Meredith Berman. “Kids learn math from measuring, plus counting, nutrition, science, and cooperation skills from taking turns preparing the food.” Sessions are fourteen to sixteen weeks, and range from $490 to $560.

• Kids with precocious palates will eat up the offerings at New School Culinary Arts (127 W. 24th St.; 212-255-4141). “Sushi for Kids” teaches 8-to-12-year-olds how to prepare cucumber rolls and smoked-salmon sushi ($50 tuition fee, plus $20 for materials). “Teens Cook Asian” passes on the secret to tangy peanut dipping sauce and pot-sticker dumplings, while “Teens Cook Italian” teaches budding Batalis the red-sauce basics. (Both classes are $85 for tuition plus $25 for materials.)

The Institute of Culinary Education (50 W. 23rd St.; 212-847-0770), formerly known as Peter Kump, gets kids ages 8 to 12 to move beyond their Coco Puffs with “Breakfast and Brunch Cooking.” A class for 12-to-14-year-olds is aptly titled “Simple Dinners to Wow Your Parents.” To wow them even more, tweens and teens can sign up for three-day summer cooking camps ($320–$350); each day is devoted to a different cuisine, from French (steak-frites and crème brûlée) to Tex-Mex (spicy chicken quesadillas and flan).

• Kids can also work side by side with the pros at several Manhattan restaurants. Salute! (270 Madison Ave., at 39th St.; 212-213-3440) holds “Camp Pizza” on the last Saturday of every month for kids 5–12, accompanied by an adult ($10 per kid). The Minnow (442 9th St.; 718-832-5500) in Park Slope currently offers a barbecue class featuring White Castle–style hamburgers as well as an “Art of the Sandwich” class for picnic-minded kids under 8 ($60 for one kid and two parents). At Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave., at 24th St.; 212-889-0905), each class begins with an excursion—a fish market for a session on seafood, the Union Square Greenmarket for pie-and-tart class. Next up is “A Day in the Life of the Tomato” on August 16, which will cover all incarnations of heirlooms for salads, soups, and sauces, followed by a “Grilling, Grinding and Braising” class in early October; in December, a chocolate-holiday-dessert demo begins at—where else?—a chocolate shop ($175 for a kid and accompanying adult). Sugar addicts should head to Aix (2398 Broadway, at 88th St.; 212-874-7400), where “Candy Camp” is taught by pastry chef Jehangir Mehta the first Saturday of every month ($40 for child and parent).

• If you’d prefer that your youngsters learn at home, Jennifer Herman Clair of Home Cooking (and formerly of Martha Stewart Living) gives cooking house calls anywhere in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens. For each session, Clair suggests a three-course kid-friendly menu. “We do a lot of mac-and-cheese and risotto. Kids love risotto because they’re constantly stirring,” she notes. Two-hour weekday lessons for ages12 and up are $150 plus ingredients for two people; six or more students are $300 (718-783-0048).

 
     
 
From the Fall 2003 edition of the New York Family Guide
 
     
     
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