Today, we have a special treat for you as we sit down with Chef Arlena Strode, the creator of the Children’s Culinary Institute. Join us in this delightful conversation as Chef Arlena shares her journey, passion for teaching kids about food, and how cooking can be a fun and educational experience for children.

Getting Started:

Chef Arlena explains that her culinary journey started with formal culinary school education. She shares the challenges of being a chef in the catering industry, especially as a mom, and how her path led her to teaching kids.

Transition to Teaching Kids:
Chef Arlena delves into her transition from catering to teaching kids how to cook. She recounts moments when guests at her home noticed her children chopping vegetables, sparking interest and inquiries. With a passion for teaching, she started developing a curriculum focused on making cooking a hands-on, educational experience for kids.

Moving with the Military:
Chef Arlena opens up about the challenges of being a military spouse, moving frequently, and how it influenced her decision to focus on teaching her own kids. This led to the development of a comprehensive curriculum tailored to children’s culinary education.

Formation of Children’s Culinary Institute:
The Children’s Culinary Institute took shape as Chef Arlena collaborated with like-minded individuals who shared her vision. The goal was to use culinary arts and kitchen skills to positively impact the way future generations approach food. Over the years, the institute has expanded globally, with locations across the world.

Addressing the Impact on Kids:
Chef Arlena emphasizes the positive impact of teaching culinary skills to kids. Beyond learning to cook, children are introduced to subjects like math, science, history, and geography, creating a holistic learning experience.

Addressing Childhood Obesity:
The conversation shifts to the rising issue of childhood obesity. Chef Arlena shares insights into the CDC’s graph on obesity in the United States and how it correlates with the decline of home economics classes in schools. She stresses the importance of providing kids with practical cooking skills to combat unhealthy eating habits.

Encouraging Exploration and Flexibility:
Chef Arlena and Christine discuss the challenges of picky eating among children. Chef Arlena encourages parents to create a supportive environment where kids can explore and taste new foods without pressure. She introduces the concept of a “new foods journal” to track and celebrate culinary adventures.

Long-Term Benefits:
Christine highlights the long-term benefits of involving kids in cooking, not just for immediate health but also for developing skills that extend into adulthood. Chef Arlena shares anecdotes about her own children, emphasizing that hands-on cooking experiences contribute to better eating habits.

Teaching Kids Flexibility:
The conversation explores the idea of increasing kids’ flexibility in trying new foods. Chef Arlena and Christine discuss the psychology behind helping children overcome rigid food preferences and the importance of using positive language and encouragement.

Advice for Parents:
Chef Arlena offers advice to parents, emphasizing the importance of not feeling discouraged. She encourages parents to focus on the broader goal of raising self-sufficient children and assures them that the journey can be enjoyable and rewarding.

As the conversation wraps up, Chef Arlena shares information about her books, available on Amazon, designed to help parents teach their kids to cook. She invites everyone to explore the Children’s Culinary Institute’s website for more information on classes and teaching opportunities.

Want to join our cooking classes following Chef Arlena’s curriculum? Sign up here

Watch the full episode below!

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