On the Road with Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen

Browse through the image gallery above to view a sample of Healthy Kids classes in action.

When Bon Appétit launched Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen last fall, the Bon Appétit Fellows and I could never have imagined how much joy, laughter, and smiles it would bring into our lives and to the Bon Appétit teams across the country who have participated in its development and success. We knew the kids were going to have fun, but we didn’t realize how much fun the grown-ups were going to have, too!

Best Buy Executive Chef Christian Pieper walked students at Urban Ventures’s Hub learning center through how to make homemade salsa

Just ask Johns Hopkins University Executive Chef Philippe Chin, who won over a group of wildly excited Baltimore Boys & Girls Club kids with his French accent and contagious passion for food. Or General Manager Uriah Paiva, who somehow convinced 25 kids to “taste test” wasabi microgreens picked straight from Plantronics’s hydroponic farm in Santa Cruz, CA.

Throughout the Healthy Kids program, kids are encouraged to think like chefs and embark on a food adventure. The “taste tests” let them try a fruit or a vegetable they may never have encountered before. With closed eyes, kids take a bite and concentrate on the flavor. The foods that Bon Appétit chefs have inspired kids to try is amazing! Squash blossoms, dragon fruit, kiwis, beet chips, orange cucumbers, tomatillos, lychee, Romanesco cauliflower, and – of course – those wasabi microgreens. When the Bon Appétit team hosting Healthy Kids has a garden or farm on campus, the kids go outside for a garden activity so they can see food growing in plant form – like the time when SAP General Manager Melissa Miller showed kids how to harvest pizza toppings from the SAP kitchen garden in Palo Alto, CA. It didn’t take long for the kids to feel at home in the garden: Some even climbed into the beds in search of the ripest fruits and vegetables!

Fellow Amanda Wareham helps give lessons in knife safety

Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen has given Bon Appétit teams the opportunity to collaborate with organizations doing incredible work for children and youth in the communities we operate in, including Stepstone Academy, Cambridge Community Center, Urban Ventures, San Francisco General Hospital, many Boys & Girls Clubs, and neighborhood elementary schools.

By learning about the connection between what they eat and their ability to do what they enjoy, children go home with a newfound power to make better choices for their health. As one little girl said to Executive Chef Jennifer Uphold at Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, SC, “This is my first time making food for myselfthis is so much fun!”

They also see how food connects us to each other. Back at Plantronics, Uriah encouraged the kids to get in the kitchen with their moms, dads, aunts and uncles, and grandparents who have important stories to share through their food.

The classes may last only a few hours, but the smiles and the knowledge last much longer.