Stem Hosts First Healthy Kids Class Open to Community

With Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen classes leaving smiles at corporate and education locations across the country, the team at STEM Kitchen & Garden in San Francisco realized they could use their on-site garden overlooking the San Francisco Bay to host an ongoing special-edition series of Healthy Kids.

Executive Chef Jorge Lumbreras and a new friend show off the STEM garden pizza

Healthy Kids classes are usually held in partnership with an account or community organization, but STEM Events Manager Taylor Boss reached out to Manager of Food Education for Children Hannah Schmunk to explore hosting a Healthy Kids class that would be open to the public, including local families. Taylor and Executive Chef Jorge Lumbreras visited the Garden at AT&T Park to see Healthy Kids in action, attending a class led by Garden at AT&T Park Program Manager Sam Wilder. Jorge and Taylor returned to STEM inspired and excited about the prospect of engaging community members while also bringing new guests to the restaurant.

The team decided to launch a series of three 90-minute Healthy Kids Saturdays in the STEM Garden workshops. To promote the Saturday event series, they announced the workshops at their summer garden party, hosting a garden-inspired scavenger hunt to give their littlest guests a preview of the Healthy Kids classes. The scavenger hunt piqued the interest of a few families, who signed up on the spot. In addition to informing current guests through in-restaurant signage and STEM’s email newsletter, the team created paid social media posts and reached out to local parenting website events calendars to communicate with a new audience. The three classes were almost fully booked before the first one even took place!

Children hunt for seasonal fruits and vegetables in the STEM garden

The day of the first class, Hannah joined Jorge in the STEM Garden to get the pizza stations set up. As families started to arrive, many of the parents inquired about the restaurant and garden, having never visited STEM before; they were invited to stay and enjoy the beautiful weather on the patio or have lunch. The 16 kids, aged 6 to 10, were giddy with anticipation. The class started with a lesson on where food comes from — “DNA!” shouted one eager participant — followed by a garden scavenger hunt for fruits and vegetables like Sun Gold tomatoes, artichokes, and blueberries. Then the children assisted Jorge in making homemade pizza sauce and learned the gentle way to harvest herbs like basil. After stretching the pizza dough, the kids harvested two large zucchini that Jorge sliced with a mandoline to top the pizzas with “garden pepperonis.”

While the pizzas baked, Hannah taught the kids how to make garden spa water as an alternative to sugary beverages. Each child harvested lavender, mint, and basil and squeezed lemons to make the refreshing drink. Then it was meal time. As everyone chowed down, one child exclaimed, “This is better than pizza!”

“It’s so exciting to see the Healthy Kids program engage families in a new way,” said Hannah. “Chef Jorge and the STEM team were total rockstars — all the kids wanted their picture with him at the end of class. Parents were raving and asking how they could sign up for the next class!”

And sign up they did. All spots were filled for the next two classes in September, which also went swimmingly.