Beyond the Easy Bake Oven
On August 3, 2012 At 7:13 pm
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How One Franchise Is Teaching Kids to Cook Better Than Their Parents
The idea of a child using a knife is enough to make any parent nervous. For Barbara Beery, it’s not so bad. For the past 25 years, Barbara has been surrounded by children with knives as a cooking instructor.
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Barbara has spent most of her life cooking. As a child, she was always in the kitchen with her mother. As a mother, Beery was always in the kitchen with her three young children. After the arrival of her third child, Beery needed a little extra cash.
Not wanting to put her kids in daycare, Barbara put her degree in education to work as a part-time preschool teacher. In her spare time, she taught cooking classes for children out of her home in Austin, Texas. She realized that, as a teacher, she had access to a large potential customer base: children and their busy parents.
All it took was a flier to fill a few of Beery’s cooking classes After a few years of teaching both preschool and cooking classes, Barbara saw children’s cooking classes were something she could pursue full-time. That was 25 years ago.
From Kitchen to Franchise
From the very beginning, Barbara never simplified the recipes she taught to her students. “Kids can do so much more than just frost a cupcake,” explains Beery.
Most of the recipes Beery teaches are inspired by adult cookbooks (as opposed to those penned for children). Instead, she substitutes ingredients and changes a few names to make them appropriate for younger and smaller chefs. “Children are so beyond throwing a peanut-butter-and-jelly something together,” Beery says.
Today, Barbara Beery is the President and Owner of Foodie Kids, a franchise opportunity that teaches children’s cooking classes and sells child-appropriate cooking materials. She still teaches classes at the franchise’s Austin, Texas location; it’s what she “really loves.” In addition, Barbara writes the franchise’s curriculum, divines new recipes, and creates new classes.
When it comes to new classes, Barbara feels it’s important to stay up-to-date with the media, food trends and various new movies. For example, one summer she built a series of classes around the movie “Ratatouille” following its release. Of course, she’s constantly in contact with her little chefs and their parents. “There’s nothing more invaluable than listening to our customers.”
How Foodie Kids Works
As a franchise, Foodie Kids generates revenue in two ways: through cooking classes and its retail store. Each location separates the retail portion from the kitchen area for obvious health and safety reasons, but onlookers are able to watch cooking classes through large glass windows.
The retail area of the franchise is, according to Beery, “a cross between a kitchen supply store like Williams-Sonoma and a fabulous toy store like FAO Schwartz.Everything you can imagine having to do with kids and with cooking we sell,” Beery says.
Anytime the retail portion of Foodie Kids is open, kids can come in to make a snack for free. Not only does this entice children into the retail area (which is great for franchisees), it allows parents the opportunity to sit down, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee while their little ones are happily playing. An added bonus? “It’s not their kitchen,” says Beery. There’s nothing to clean up.
In the Foodie Kids kitchen, children are taught according to their age and/or experience level. Those who are new to cooking or are very young will use child-appropriate safety knives, which are sold in-store. Foodie Kids also teaches a knife skills workshop. According to Beery, most children between 7 and 8 cannot use sharp knives that aren’t designed for children. “A 7 or 8 year old who has grown up in a cooking family can use a sharp knife,” says Beery.
“As many recipes as you can think of– that’s what we do,” says Beery of the cooking classes. “Children have made turkey sliders, homemade buns, vanilla ice cream, crêpes, chocolate croissants and coq au vin,” she says. Several of her students have gone on to culinary academies to become chefs.
“Cooking is one of those things that with the right environment and instruction, a child can be instantly successful. The best part of my job is when the little light bulb goes off in a child’s head, when they accomplish whatever we’re working on for the first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2 year old or a 10 year old.”
While the only location in current existence is the original in Austin, potential franchisees shouldn’t be alarmed. Barbara has been in the business for 25 years and Foodie Kids has only been franchising since mid-May of 2012.
If you’re interested in becoming a franchisee, loving to cook and loving kids are both important but they’re certainly not all Barbara looks for when selecting entrepreneurs to further Foodie Kids. “This is a business, it’s not a hobby. This isn’t something to tinker around with for three to five hours a day and walk away from,” Barbara says of her franchise. She makes the point that it is a small business.
“We don’t want an absentee franchisee. These parents and grandparents are bringing in their most precious possession to teach and do right by. You need to have your face in that store.” Beery asserts.
Once an entrepreneur becomes a Foodie Kids franchisee training begins in Austin at the original Foodie Kids location. Additional training is provided on-site at the franchisee’s new location for 3-5 days during the initial opening week. Barbara hopes that the new franchises who join Foodie Kids will incorporate new ideas into the program.
“You can’t think of everything!” she quips.
If you’re wondering as to the practicality and profitability of a children’s cooking franchise in this economy, Beery has proved that it’s possible be successful. Foodie Kids in its current incarnation began two years ago and, despite never advertising, experienced the kind of success you don’t hear of– even in a booming economy.
“We opened the doors and we had profit in the first three months,” says Beery, much of which she credits to her local reputation.
That said, Foodie Kids provides a service that busy and working parents need and feel are of value. Barbara feels that cooking classes for children were once considered a luxury but now are ways for busy parents to keep kids busy during the summer months and after school when parents have to run errands, be at work, or need alone time.
For more information on becoming a Foodie Kids franchisee, visit http://www.franchiseclique.com/franchise/Foodie-Kids.