Birthday Party Spots for Food-Obsessed Kids from Coast to Coast
©Ziem Photography 2014
Got a Pintsize Chef in the Family?
If your kid runs around with a whisk in his or her hand, is addicted to Food Network or is frequently begging to be the one to make dinner, you have a little foodie. Lucky you! When it's time to celebrate your pintsize chef's birthday, be sure to consult our list of best party spots for food-obsessed kids. There's no better way to say happy birthday than to make your child chef for the day.
Photo courtesy of Young Chefs Academy
Austin: Foodie Kids Culinary Center
Barbara Beery started her cooking school and culinary retail shop business 25 years ago with a degree in elementary education and a passion for cooking. Since that time she has taught thousands of kids to cook and written a best-selling children's cookbook too. Her birthday parties (1.5 hours, starting at age 3) have kids cooking four dishes based on trendy themes like Minions, Dinosaurs, Frozen, Star Wars and more. "They do pizzas, lemonade, frost and decorate cupcakes, and make fruit wands," explains Beery. The birthday child gets an apron signed by all the kids in the party as a gift to take home.
Atlanta: The Painted Pin
At this upscale boutique bar, bowling, and entertainment venue in the heart of Buckhead's Miami Circle, kids can bowl, and play Skee-Ball, Ping-Pong and more. When they’re ready for a break, they can feast on a seasonal menu created by chef Thomas Collins: soy-and-ginger-glazed edamame and hickory-smoked pork ribs, along with a slew of tacos and wood-fired pizzas. Parents can relax over craft cocktails by mixologist and bar manager Trip Sandifer of Atlanta's The Spence and Restaurant Eugene. We know it's about the kids, but Mom and Dad need a cocktail.
More About: The Painted Pin
Metairie, La.: La Petite Tea Room
La Petite Tea Room, just outside New Orleans, hosts the most-charming dress-up tea parties for birthdays. In a variety of magical themes, parties include a delicious menu of tea sandwiches, treats and sweets, as well as themed dress-up clothes and dazzling accessories. For example, the Her Royal Highness Party includes armoires filled with princess dresses, capes, plastic tiaras, wands and necklaces. Kids can get glittery facial tattoos and do their nails, too. Boys can also get in on the fun with a pirate- or knight-themed table and dress-up clothes.
Philadelphia: South Bowl
All kids love to bowl, and who doesn't love a good pizza? So why not combine two of their favorite activities? At Philly's South Bowl, a state-of-the-art bowling alley with two private bowling areas, two full-size bars, cool vintage seating and an outdoor roof deck, your kids can celebrate their birthday with pizza making. Parties typically get started around the handmade wood-fired pizza oven, where kids knead their dough and top it with their choice of cheeses, meats and veggies. While it bakes, they bowl. Add on face painting, too! Good luck getting the kids to leave.
New York City: Gallow Green
At Gallow Green, a magical, mystical restaurant created by the brilliant producers of the immersive theater experience Sleep No More, children gather for their Potions Parties, a morning of mixing potions, planting seeds or picking pumpkins (depending on season), pressing flowers, and enjoying a foodie's High Tea that includes cheddar cheese toasties, codfish fingers, deviled eggs and grilled chicken skewers along with sweets like chocolate crunch cakes, red velvet cupcakes, blackberry shortbreads, lemon tarts and orange currant scones. While the little ones sip pink lemonade with their favorite doll (a highchair and monogrammed bib are provided for your child's "friend"), parents can relax over craft beers and artisan cocktails.
San Francisco: Le Marais
The bakers at Le Marais, the artisan French bakery in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood, love to get kids into the kitchen. That might be because owner Patrick Acasio and his wife, Joanna Pulcini, have a 3-year-old daughter of their own. For birthday parties, Acasio's team offers several options, including a croissant-making party, where each child can roll his or her own croissant and fill it with a favorite filling, and a macaron party, where the kids combine shells and fillings in any way they like and then each take a box of macarons home. A tea party is in the works, with sandwiches, pastries, cookies and scones.
More About: Le Marais
San Francisco: Y.U.M. Chefs
Young Urban Modern Chefs (Y.U.M. Chefs) is a cooking program in San Francisco dedicated to teaching children and adults how to prepare and choose healthy foods through hands-on cooking classes. Director Leah Brooks hosts a variety of engaging children's parties in different themes, including make your own pizza, cupcake making and decorating, veggie sushi rolling, and customized menus based on your child's favorite foods. Chef Brooks hails from Seattle, where she graduated from culinary school and spent many years at some of the Pacific Northwest's most-celebrated restaurants. She is also the author of Baking with Kids, a book that offers from-scratch recipes and helpful tips for parents on how to safely cook with their kids. It's a must-have for every family with a foodie kid!
Newton Highlands, Mass.: Create a Cook
At Create a Cook, celebrating 10 years in 2015, birthday parties (2 hours, starting at age 4) range from make-your-own pizzas to spring rolls and Caesar salads. "The sky is the limit when it comes to engaging kids at our birthday parties," says owner Joanne "Jo" Horner, a graduate of The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts Professional Chef Program. Horner offers a variety of themed parties — Hawaiian Luau, Brunch, Mexican, Pizza, and Bake & Decorate — but says her most-popular choice is the make-your-own-pasta party, where kids make the dough from scratch and make garlic bread with a compound butter. All parties include smoothies and bake-and-decorate cupcakes. Kids also get their own Create a Cook apron to take home.
North Carolina: Flour Power Studios
Flour Power's founder, Susan Caldwell, started her school out of her house in 2008, and it has since grown to three locations in North Carolina. In addition to classes and summer camp, Caldwell does super-festive parties (1.5 hours) for kids ages 3 and up. She provides all the magic, including chef hats to decorate and a visit to her famous lollipop tree for a treat to take home. Kids can come dressed as their favorite princess or superhero (or Food Network Star!) and cook up themed dishes. Minecraft parties make Minecraft Stew, Creeper Cookies and Golden Apple Dumplings; American Doll parties include invitations for the kids' dolls and a menu that includes Julie's Sunnytime Lemonade, Star Spangled Banner Bacon Bites, Rebecca's Strawberry Tarts and more. Each guest gets to take home a hat.
Nationwide: Young Chefs Academy
Since 2003, this nationwide franchise business has gone a long way toward ensuring kids not only have a lot of silly fun, but also walk away with the essentials of cooking. Every party includes a tag team of two chefs — one wacky and the other diligent — playing good cop, bad cop. Intertwined with their show is a fantastic cooking lesson. Parties (1.5 to 2 hours) for kids age 4 and up include Make-Your-Own-Pizza and themes like Mexican Fiesta and Tea Party. In Forest Hills, N.Y., their signature "Fear Factor" Party is a hit, with creepy challenges like eating Himalayan Mountain Dirt (actually cake) or the Tongue of a Komodo Dragon (roasted red pepper). With every party, your child gets a chef's hat to decorate and take home, and the birthday child receives a special gift along with an apron and a T-shirt.