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Sometimes you meet people who just have an amazing energy and love for life that you want to tag along with what they are doing. That happened when I met Nanci Gregory. I was trying to get her on board with search engine marketing and instead she got me interested in bee pollen (see more in my favorite things post about that!). 

Recently, she invited me to check out a cooking class at the school she co-owns with Jo Marie Quinn in Ridgewood, NJ. It is one of the premier cooking schools in NJ and offers great programs for children AND adults. I brought my daughter along and we were instantly charmed by the school and Nanci’s teaching. The school is intimate and warmly decorated. We sat on stools by the cooking area near the stove. 

Today, the kids were making alphabet chicken soup. First, Audrey was cutting carrots with these special (Pamper Chef) knives that don’t cut their skin. Then, they did celery and onions too. Nanci put all of these into the soup, made of chicken stock (prepared earlier from scratch). 

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Then, the kids went outside to pick some herbs for the soup and this went in as well after they were cut. Finally, some cream of wheat was used to make dumplings and the alphabet pasta was put in. I was impressed with how the kids were so cooperative in cleaning up after themselves. The soup smelled delicious and we all sat around and savored a bowl of our creation. I was surprised by how good it was!

Cooking classes are a great way to engage the senses, give kids a sense of responsibility and self control, and to teach them about math, environment and science in a fun way. Each week they cook something new and it varies from baked goods to main dishes. Best of all, they associate cooking with fun! 

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You can also have your kid’s birthday party at the studio for a very reasonable cost. For between $235 to 250 for 10 kids ($22 to $25 each additional;max 20 kids) paper products, beverages, invitation, apron or craft (as a take home favor), and cupcakes to decorate (you don’t need to do a cake!). They will decorate with balloons in two colors and coordinating tableware. They have many themes but the ones I like best are the Pasta, Pasta and More pasta (make your own pasta!), American Doll Tea Party, and Cowboy/girl (s’mores AND cupcakes!). How fun!

They don’t stop there, though. They have tons of stuff for adults to get in on the cooking action, too:

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Ladies’ Night Out. For $50 per person you have a great time cooking together and eating together–all centered around a theme. 10 ppl minimum. Great idea for a birthday party. 

Adult Co-ed Classes. Conveniently scheduled in the evening, they are only $40. Upcoming is “Family Friendly Dishes” on Tues., Oct. 20@ 8-9:30pm. (I plan to attend this one!). There are also monthly classes offered by Whole Foods $25. 

Monthly Cookbook Club. The price ($50) includes the cookbook and you get to try out a few dishes from it. Oct. 14, 7:30-9:30pm they will feature Giada’s Kitchen–New Italian Favorites. She’s one of my favorite cooks so I will def try to be here! 

If you love gingerbread houses, they also have classes in December for both kids and adults. 

If you are interested in a mommy and me class on Tues around 12pm (ages 3-6) then contact me and we can try to form a class (miraspark@gmail.com). The classes are on a 12 week session and work out to about $20/week. You can enroll at anytime and they will prorate it. 

Also, check out their website for more information: www.ridgewoodculinarystudio.com

There have been lots of people interested in cooking these days. Maybe it’s the recession, but it’s a great way to invest in learning a skill that can only save you money in the long run. A very practical way to expand your mom repertoire while enjoying good food and good company. It is also a great stress reliever! So, clear your schedule and get cooking!