Cooking up memories

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Break into the creative realm of blow-out birthday parties for all ages. Guide your child into a delicious culinary and pastry-making experience by creating masterpieces in the kitchen. Let them get their hands dirty with pizza sauce and cupcake decorations as their imaginations unfold.

Young Chef's Academy is the perfect place to begin your child's cooking adventure.

Cathy Wuertzer of Pataskala heard about Young Chef's Academy when a friend had a party there. Wuertzer's son, Ethan, likes to cook, so they decided it was the perfect place for his 6th birthday party. "They had the best time. I thought they ran it so well. The kids were active from the time we got there until the time we finished. It was so involved and had lots of activities so the kids didn't get bored or restless. We had 16 little boys and there was no down time," said Wuertzer.

Gather a group of your child's friends, pick the perfect package and let the kids do the rest. "Young Chef's Academy provides a unique experience because we put it on like a show," said Jill Jacobs, owner and operator of Young Chef's Academy. "It's interactive and educational without the children knowing it. The best part is, the moms don't have to lift a finger."

Wuertzer agreed that the party was very educational. "The kids learned about measurements; they each got to measure a cup of flour. They also learned about the science of baking and how the dough worked," Wuertzer added.

Lori Baker of Gahanna had one of the first parties at Young Chef's Academy and can't stop talking about it. She said she chose to have a party for her son, Alex, at Young Chef's because it was something different. "My younger son likes to cook and my older son likes to eat," said Baker. "Alex has a life-threatening tree-nut allergy, so you would think that a party centered around food would be a bad idea, but Jill was fabulous. She checked all the ingredients and catered to all his dietary needs. I trust her to keep my kids safe because I am very vigilant about checking labels," Baker said.

The Academy offers three all-inclusive packages with additional upgrades to fit your budget. Have even more fun by upgrading a package to include karaoke or cupcake decorating.

"If you have a pizza party at home and order in for 10 kids, it will cost about the same," said Jacobs.

Baker considers herself to be very financially conservative, but birthday parties happen only once a year, so she usually just goes for it. "In our neighborhood, a party at Young Chef's Academy is fairly average in cost," said Baker.

If it's a sweet tooth you're trying to satisfy, try a party at Our Cupcakery for another creative venture. Kids can decorate their own cakes or cupcakes, make an open-faced sandwich, dip strawberries in chocolate, and paint sugar cookies. They also will learn to set the party table.

For the financially cautious family, you can easily recreate these parties in your own home. Consider a variety of low-cost themed parties involving costumes such as princesses, superheroes, pop idols or movie stars. Crafts could include decorating picture frames, scrapbooking, Lego building contests and jewelry making. Set up games such as Hot Wheel races, photo scavenger hunts, water balloon tosses and board game tournaments. Let the kids experiment in the kitchen with cooking challenges such as decorating cookies and cupcakes, making their own pizza pie or creating ice cream sundaes.

Young Chef's Academy is located in Gahanna at 425 Beecher Road. For more information, call (614) 933-9700, or log on to Our Cupcakery is located 119 S. High Street in Dublin. For more information, call (614)-659-1555, or log on to

Breanna Watzka and Kelly Nelson interned with Columbus Parent Magazine this spring. Breanna is a sophomore at Otterbein College. Kelly graduated in June from The Ohio State University.