MICHELLE GOLDSMITH AND Candace Williams seemed destined to become friends. Both had young children enrolled in a Preston Hollow Early Childhood PTA playgroup. Both are former full-time teachers who became full-time moms. And both love to cook.
But the pair had one more thing in common: Both were looking to turn their interests into part-time income. And that made them destined to become business partners.
“We were stay-at-home moms looking for a way to incorporate our love of cooking, kids and teaching. We both wanted to find something where we could work part time and make our own hours,” Goldsmith says.
“She and I are both … we don’t sit still very well,” Williams says. “We’re always looking for a new challenge, but to still be available for our young children.”
They decided to start a cooking school for kids, teaching a room full of young children their way around a kitchen – Williams’ kitchen, to be specific.
“We talked about it for about six months and did a lot of research on it,” Goldsmith says. “We realized it’s a niche that’s not really being served.”
Any wonder? The thought of young children whipping up a meal in the kitchen can strike fear in the hearts of most parents. And that’s a big reason why they like sending their kids to cooking class.
“Many parents love to cook, but don’t necessarily have the time or patience to have flour cover every surface of their house,” Williams says. “My house is very kid-friendly. We plan to renovate it at some point, so it’s perfect. You don’t worry when we get sugar, water, flour, whatever, grounded in the floor. They can’t hurt our floors.”
The friends teach two classes a month, divided by age groups (the youngest students are 4 years old; the oldest are 10), with 10-12 kids in each class. The classes were popular from the start, despite the only publicity being word of mouth.
“Really, the only advertising we did was talking with people we knew, at kids’ schools, that kind of thing. The response has definitely been more than what we expected,” Goldsmith says.
“We have lots of people who sign up for everything we do,” Williams says. “We have waiting lists for some of our classes.”
Each two-hour class has a different theme, and the students make some pretty fun stuff while there. Take, for example, the time they made funny-face tostados as part of a Mexican food class.
“They created monster faces or clowns, whatever they wanted to. They made them with cheese, vegetables, we used olives for eyes, carrots, shredded lettuce for hair. They were a hoot. It’s amazing how many opportunities for creative thought and expression come out of this,” Williams says.
The kids learn about different foods and equipment, and do almost all of the cooking themselves.
“They literally do all of it, except anything involving a knife or anything hot,” Goldsmith says. “They’ll use blenders, mixers, juicers, kitchen equipment. They’ll measure, pour, mix, all the other things involved with cooking. And we do pretty elaborate meals when we cook with them. We usually have an entrée, vegetable, dessert, appetizer and often a drink.”
And while the focus is on food, Williams and Goldsmith can’t help but teach students many other subjects at the same time.
“We’ve been very pleased with all the different aspects of learning cooking touches on: science, math, critical thinking, sequencing, depth, cause and effect,” Williams says. “It’s such an easy way to teach them when it’s so hands-on and non-threatening. If we get eggshell in a batter, we problem solve and just dig it out. It’s no big deal.”
Sounds like great fun for the kids. But what about the teachers? Has going into business together been hard on their friendship?
Just the opposite, Williams says.
“It’s increased our friendship dramatically. It’s a very comfortable, easy match, which is nice, because teachers are used to being autonomous with a class. We click very well.”
Goldsmith says they have considered expanding the business, in order to offer more classes. But for now, they’re enjoying things as they are.
“It’s been so much fun. We went into it thinking we’ll try it and see if we have fun. We’ve been surprised at how much we enjoy it and the people who come enjoy it, too.”
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