Setting up Your Own After-School Cooking Club: What Not to Do!

I’ve written lately about the joys and successes that come with running the #MamaqtuqNanookCookingClub, I’d be remiss to leave out the many failures I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned. These might be helpful to you if you’re thinking of starting your own club. Keep in mind, we think failures in and out of the kitchen are important for kids to learn how to cope with a complex world

No Gingerbread Houses

I’ll start with this, and though this may seem like an odd statement from someone who loves kids and baking, I encourage you to heed my words: Never, ever undertake assembling DIY gingerbread houses with 30 kids under the age of 10. Don’t do it. They’ll be crazy excited because it’s fun and Christmas is coming. Teachers and parents know this means chaos at the school. Add gumdrops and candy canes and icing to this and they’re uncontainable, one could say unmanageable. All that frenetic energy means one thing: heat. This means the icing will not set and none of the walls will stay up; the roofs will all cave. The kids will cry. Some will get angry. Others will eat all the candy. You get the picture. That nostalgic memory you tried to create will go up in flames. Even opening the school door to the Arctic winter to cool things down won’t be of much help. Still determined? Good luck.

No Big Topic Discussions

Early on, the kids caught on to the idea of field trips into the community and to guest speakers coming in to speak to them. They were immediately receptive to the idea of fostering community spirit and volunteerism, whether it was in the form of raising money for club infrastructure or feeding people in our community. This is now one of our main principles and we reinforce it weekly. All good. However, I learned that discussing this topic for 20-30 minutes with a pack of kids isn’t such a good idea. I thought we were off on the right track at first. What constitutes volunteerism, I asked. Picking up garbage, helping out a feast, were some of the answers I received. Why do we help people? To help them. What can we do in our communities to help? Pick up your shoes. It deteriorated from there. It was just a bit too sophisticated for young kids. I guess what’s most important is to teach them to volunteer early in their lives so it becomes ingrained in them.

Flour is Flammable

We make pizza a lot. After three years, I have helped develop dozens of seriously good pizza makers. I’m proud of this. But, make sure you wipe the flour off the bottom of the pizza pans before you put them in the oven because flour is flammable and you’ll have to deal with a bunch of freezing kids and the fire department at 40 below.

Keep it Simple

Don’t overestimate the kids or your cooking space. Kids and complex recipes, like croissants, are best left for home and not two hours on a Friday afternoon. The most important thing is to teach them the basics of food preparation and to have fun.


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How to avoid calling the fire department and other important tips for setting up your own after-school cooking club

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How to avoid calling the fire department and other tips for setting up your own after-school cooking club



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