A former health worker has found the recipe for a new business designed to teach children the art of home cooking.
Junior Kitchen has just opened in a former Greggs bakery in Northgate, Darlington, and youngsters are already rolling up their sleeves for some culinary coaching.
The venture is the brainchild of Sue Martin and her business partner Andrew Howden, who, with Sue, established the first Junior Kitchen outlet in his home town of Leeds, primarily to offer Baking Parties for children, which has since developed to offer a full range of baking activities for all.
Aimed at children from preschool age to 16, youngsters can take part in a host of different cooking experiences from the Five Hours of Fun Holiday Club, where they get to bake, prepare and make a main course and dessert for lunch and take home the goodies that they have baked, to Monday After School Club and Weekend Baking sessions.
The introduction of Parents and Mini Chefs provides a social and hands on experience for preschool children to interact and learn baking and cooking skills. There are themed birthday parties available and Sue also works with schools, recently having taught a visiting class to make a Chinese New Year lunch.
Junior Kitchen also provides baking opportunities for Cubs, Guides and Brownies and Adult Dine and Demo nights are proving popular.
Sue explained: “The aim is to get children cooking and interested in food, where it comes from, how it’s prepared, understanding about measuring and weighing ingredients, a bit of the science behind the nutrition.
“Above all, it’s about making it fun so that they enjoy it and maybe then they’ll go home and want to cook for themselves and their families.”
Sue added: “We can deal with food allergies and intolerances and work with parents to achieve this and ensure that the children’s and parents’ needs are met. All staff are DBS checked.”
The Junior Kitchen premises have been let to Sue and Andrew by owner Nick Appleyard, who took the rare step of visiting the Leeds business to ensure the new building met their requirements.
Sue added: “Nick has been incredibly helpful and this building meets our needs perfectly.”
Nick said: “Having previously been tenanted by Greggs, it already had many of the features Junior Kitchen needs but they have also done a great job of fitting it out with new ovens and counters.
“It’s a great use of the property and the area and it’s teaching children the values of good, home cooked food and nutrition.”
Junior Kitchen has joined another new tenant in Northbeck House, Stage Darlington CIC, a theatre company for adults with learning disabilities that provides drama, dance and vocal coaching and performance opportunities.
Nick added: “The two businesses complement each other really well, using their premises for creative activities that promote self-esteem and confidence. We have to feel comfortable with the tenants in our premises and we’re really delighted with Stage Darlington and Junior Kitchen. We’re happy to support the businesses in any way we can.”