Piccolo Chef

Best Kids’ Cooking Classes, August 2009

The children learning to prepare a meal at Piccolo Chef start from scratch: They plant and harvest produce in a half-acre vegetable and herb garden at Culver City’s Westside Children’s Center, where the classes also are held. As the name suggests, courses emphasize Italian food and culture (mozzarella rice balls, sweet pea ravioli), with salutes to other parts of the world (spring rolls, empanadas, curried-chicken kabobs). Classes are small (ten students max), and children as young as three can enroll, though parent participation is required for those aged three to five. Little ones get thrills such as squeezing lemons using plastic juicers, cracking eggs into mixing bowls, and forming cookies with ice cream scoops. The older children acquire an esoteric education in the chemistry behind cheese making and the key to creating blue garlic pasta.