The 10 Coolest Cooking Camps in America
It s mid-June, which means school is almost out (if not out already). Soon, you ll send your kid off to summer camp—unless, of course, you ve missed the camp-registration deadlines and are running around in a total panic right now. Chill out, procrastinating parents! Lots of cooking camps around the country are still accepting applications (as of press time, of course). You can drop your budding culinary genius off with trusted professionals, where he or she will learn knife skills, plating techniques, even how to sauté veggies—all in someone else s kitchen. (I.e. you don t have to clean up.) Heck, sign them up for a farm camp, and they ll come back with an advanced palate and a thumb greener than yours. Think of it as an investment in your family s mealtime future. Here are 10 great cooking and farm camps around the country that will make your little one a better helper in the kitchen and in the garden.
1. [Sur la Table Kids Teens Summer Cooking Series
This fancy kitchen store is much more than beautiful salt shakers and handmade plate sets you can t afford. It s also home to summer cooking camps for kids ages 8–17. This isn t your typical make-pizza-bagels-and-ice-cream-sundaes kiddie cooking class, either. In programs Science in the Kitchen and Baking Around the World, your kid will learn techniques for everything from making buttermilk from scratch to whipping up a tiramisu with chocolate curls.
Location: Sur la Table stores. located in over 20 states nationwide
Duration: Five two-hour sessions, Monday–Friday.
Sample Menu for Science in the Kitchen: Homemade yogurt, buttermilk from scratch, buttermilk-marinated chicken pitas with yogurt and mint sauce, strawberry frozen yogurt
Sample Menu for Baking Around the World: Tiramisu with chocolate curls, raspberry fool, chocolate cheesecake bites, blueberry clafouti
2. [Summer Cooking Camp at Home Cooking New York
If you want your kid to acquire serious knife skills and cooking techniques, this New York City camp is the place. During the week they ll learn how to make Italian, Asian, Indian, and American comfort dishes, then they ll hit the famous Union Square Greenmarket to gather ingredients for a seasonal feast. Every 2 1/2-hour class ends with the campers lunching on their own creations.
Location: Soho, NYC
Duration: Five 2 1/2-hour sessions, Monday–Friday.
Sample Menu: Fresh ricotta gnocchi with basil pesto, creamy risotto with lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano, Tuscan kale salad with homemade garlic croutons, macerated berries with zabaglione.
3. [Classic Thyme Edible and Living Garden Schoolyard Farm-to-Table Summer Camp
If you need some help with your garden, enroll your budding green thumb in this four-day gardening and cooking camp. Kids will learn how to care for a plant from growing to harvesting, then they ll take the day s produce and make a healthy snack and full meal. If your kid would rather not get his or her hands dirty outside (it s not for everyone!), there are other camps at Classic Thyme that follow a more classic curriculum.
Location: 710 South Avenue West, Westfield, N.J.
Duration: Four three-hour sessions, Monday–Thursday
Sample Menu: Smoothies, pizzas, sautéed vegetables, kale chips
4. [Tiny Chefs Summer Camp
At Tiny Chefs summer camps, each week is a different theme—from Italian to French bistro to tapas to cupcake wars. Technically, your own tiny chef could go for the entire summer and never repeat a program. Chef s hats included in registration fee.
Cost: $200–$425/week, depending on class and duration,
Location: Multiple locations around D.C. Maryland, and Virginia
Duration: 3- or 6-hour classes, Monday–Friday
Sample Menu: French onion soup, cassoulet, quiche Lorraine, apple tarts, cream puffs
5. [Stone Barns Center for Food Agriculture Farm Camp
Stone Barns Center has some serious street cred ( for good reason ), and its farm camp for kids lives up to its reputation. We can vouch: Contributors Andy Ward and Jenny Rosenstrach sent their children to the camp last year. with delicious results. The kids will learn how to care for animals and plants, collect eggs, and harvest produce, as well as how to cook some seriously delicious dishes like zucchini fritters and apricot crumble.
Cost: $380/week for Stone Barns members, $420/week for non-members,
Ages: First through eighth grade
Location: Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
Duration: 6-hour camp day, Monday–Friday
Sample Menu: Squash fritters with Korean dipping sauce, homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, apricot crumble, hummus
6. [Gorman Heritage Farm Camp
Although many of this farm s camp programs offer a cooking component, its Farm Chef Camp focuses on connecting kids to the foods they eat through cooking. They ll learn the basics, like cleaning and chopping vegetables, sautéing, and seasoning. And, of course, they ll have farm chores like grooming animals and collecting eggs—this is a farm camp, after all.
Cost: $175/week for members, $215 for non-members/week;
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Duration: 5-hour days, Monday–Friday, July 14–18 or Aug 4–8
Sample Menu: Samosas, saag paneer, basmati rice
7. [Suzie s Farm Food Camp
A little gardening here, a little cooking there, and your kid will get experience in organic farming as well as how to prepare different types of vegetables. Don t worry: There s plenty of time for games, hikes, and arts and crafts, too.
Ages: Kindergarten–eighth grade
Location: San Diego, California
Duration: 6-hour days, Monday–Friday
Sample Menu: One-bite salsa, vegetable campenadas (empanadas made in a clay, wood-fired cob oven), kale salad, balsamic and herb salad dressing, melitzana salata (an eggplant dip similar to baba ghanoush), basil and lemon whipped cream and berries
8. [The Kids Table Summer Camp
At this Chicago summer camp, every week brings a new theme, from Eating the Rainbow, where kids focus on different-colored ingredients every day, to Dough-Nuts where the focus is on pizza, pretzels, and pies. Older kids get to take field trips to farmers markets and food pantries, seeing the world of food beyond their own tables.
Duration: Two 2-hour days for 2-to-3-year-olds; three 2-hour days for 4-to-6-year-olds; five 3-hour days for 7-to-10-year-olds; five 6-hour days for 11-to-16-year-olds
Sample Menu: Fresh spring rolls with sesame-soy vinaigrette, cucumber salad with miso vinaigrette and sesame cookies
SLEEP AWAY CAMP
9. [L École des Beaux Arts Farm Camp
This camp is truly a camp. where your kids will learn everything from pitching a tent to making arrows (!) to foraging mushrooms and berries to milking cows. The only thing not-so-campy about it is the food: Your child will enjoy homemade meals with ingredients sourced from surrounding farms, as well as dishes from founder and restaurant man Mark Firth s new restaurant, Prarie Whale. Seriously, if we were in the 7–13 range, we would so go this summer.
Location: Great Barrington, MA
Duration: Sleep-away camp, Monday–Friday
Sample Menu: Breakfast: eggs, tomato, bacon, toast. Dinner: lobsters, steamers, farm vegetables
HALF DAY CAMP WITH A SLEEP-AWAY FIELD TRIP
10. [Bay Leaf Kitchen Camp
If your child is interested in culinary school, this camp will help prepare him or her for restaurant life (minus the cursing and tattoos). Campers work at the Ferry Building s CUESA outdoor kitchen, practicing techniques, working prep stations, and learning how to identify flavors. Kids will meet guest chefs from restaurants around the city who will prepare a cooking activity for them. The program culminates with an overnight trip to Eatwell Farm in Dixon, California, where campers learn how to gather eggs, milk cows, pick vegetables, and cook over a campfire.
Location: San Francisco
Duration: Day camp Monday–Wednesday, sleep-away session Thursday–Friday
Sample Menu: Chickpea and lentil fritters, summer squash and turkey patties, fresh buns, heirloom tomato ketchup, sweet and sour quick pickles, seasonal vegetable salad with herb dressing