Kids food doesn’t have to be bland. Just ask Jessica Sweetman. The Farmington Hills mom used to whip up global dishes in gourmet kitchens around the country. With Experience Cooking, she’s moved to her own home’s kitchen, teaching children and adults alike to create flavorful foods from pizza to empanadas.
“No silly cupcake classes!” says Sweetman, whose baking courses, for example, cover scones, panna cotta, eclairs, pastry cream and soft pretzels with cheese sauce. “When the kids come, my goal is to make them realize they can do so much more than what the parents think they can do. I want them to understand how flavors go together. I want them to learn how to use a knife and how to make everything from scratch.”
It’s a lesson her young son learns, too, as he helps mom make pasta and pancakes.
“My 4-year-old is the reason I do what I do,” says Sweetman, whose business turns two this summer. “In the restaurant world, you pick your career or your family. Now I built my own kitchen, can control my hours and still be with my family.”
Her classes, which welcome kids ages 7 with family or 8-10 solo, cover an array of Mexican, Italian, Thai, French and other dishes. Kids get a taste of the entire process, from chopping to assembly. And no “kiddie” grub here: They’re making the same enchiladas, mousse and six-cheese ravioli as the grown-ups.
“I don’t just hand out recipes,” she adds. “I make sure all my classes are hands-on and everyone is learning the same skill. Everyone has their own cutting board and everything.”
And at the end, everyone sits at her dining room table and eats their meal family style.