Del Mar Times, September 12th, 2014, voted Best of North Coast in arts and education!
San Diego Channel 6, June 16th, 2014:
Del Mar Times, May 29th 2014:
The Mom’s guide to San Diego, May 2014:
There is still time to sign up for Jamie’s free classes since the Big Rig Kitchen will be in town until May 31st. But if you don’t make it, here is a list of places in San Diego where kids can learn to cook…
1. We met Chef Jenn in the Big Rig Kitchen, and she told us about the cooking classes and camps being offered at Suzie’s Farm.
2. Chef Jenn offers private cooking parties for kids.
3. Chef Jenn also teaches at Great-News Cooking School, my favorite local place to take adult classes. This Pacific Beach store offers classes for kids about once a month.
4. Check your local Parks & Recreation Department class schedule for on-going cooking classes and camps like the “Kids Can Cook” Camp in El Cajon and the “Top Chef Desserts” class in Carlsbad.
5. Local grocery stores also offer occasional kids’ cooking classes like the Wholefoods in Del Mar’s Kids’ Club, which is hosting strawberry shortcake from scratch this Saturday.
6. The owner of Cook for Thought instructs this month’s Wholefoods Kids’ Club cooking class. Through Cook for Thought, she also offers cooking classes, summer camps, school assemblies and private cooking events for children.
7. Williams-Sonoma offers free Junior Chef Classes at Fashion Valley Mall and University Town Center. Classes are for children 5 and older and pre-registration is required.
8. Sur la Table has three San Diego locations, and each offers a summer cooking camp for kids in addition to the occasional child-oriented class.
9. My Cool Kid Cooks provides mobile junior chef cooking classes, birthday parties and summer camps.
10. Harvard Cookin’ Girl in La Jolla offers kids’ cooking classes, camps and birthday parties.
11. In addition to producing a healthy cooking show for kids and their families, The Good Food Factory in Coastal North County offers classes and camps for kids.
Del Mar Times – March 6th, 2014
Expert brings popular ‘mobile teaching kitchen’ to Del Mar Hills Academy
Peter watches in anticipation as Fernanda Larson serves up student-made pita bread in her Cook for Thought class after-school at Del Mar Hills.
By Karen Billing
The Del Mar Hills art room was transformed into a mini kitchen for mini chefs recently as it was overtaken by a Cook for Thought children’s cooking class after school. Cook for Thought founder and director Fernanda Larson led an enthusiastic group of students through making their own pita bread from scratch, paired with hummus and grilled eggplant they prepared.
Larson, a Del Mar resident and Hills parent, started Cook for Thought to provide curriculum-integrated culinary experiences for “curious minds that are hungry for knowledge.”
Her group last week was very hungry.
“I couldn’t walk here my body was so excited, I had to run,” said a student named Dora.
Larson brings her “mobile teaching kitchen” to the Del Mar Union School District for five classes a week in addition to teaching at local preschools. In March, she will be hosting some classes open to the community at Whole Foods in Del Mar, one class will be on Brazilian Carnaval cooking and one a tribute to Dr. Seuss.
Larson was born and raised in Southern Brazil in a family of Italian descent, resulting in an eclectic culinary background. The family’s backbone was in the kitchen.
Some of her most treasured memories of her childhood surround preparing lunch, starting in the morning with a walk to the butcher and then to the produce stand and the grocer. She had a full sit down-lunch every day of the week.
“One of my favorite things to make is black beans in a pressure cooker,” said Larson. “The rhythmic sound of the steam escaping the valve instantly transports me back to my childhood.”
Lauren and Sophia enjoy their finished product. Photos/Karen Billing
She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition, is a certified nutritionist and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and recently was accepted as an ambassador for Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution Foundation in Del Mar.
Before having her two children she worked mainly with adults, but since becoming a mom she saw the potential for combining food, cooking, academic and social learning to close the “nourishment gap.”
Larson believes cooking is a vital life skill and it has become her dream, mission and passion to pass it on.
“To see how able they are, that’s something that’s so overlooked when working with kids,” Larson said. “They’re so capable and willing to try new things. They’re able to incorporate any technique that I teach them. And they remember and teach each other,”
As her Cook for Thought classes pair education with cooking, children have made roasted quail when studying Native American traditions, a “Hangtown fry” when studying the Gold Run, and tomato sauce caviar when they learned about futuristic molecular gastronomy.
Lauren and Sophia enjoy their finished product. Photos/Karen Billing
While studying American cuisine, kids have whipped up Philly cheese steaks, gumbo, New England clam chowder and cedar planked salmon.
Her current session at Del Mar Hills is about cooking through the world’s history, from Egypt to Morocco to France. The last class will incorporate the French Revolution and students will celebrate by having a French crepe party with their parents.
Last week the kids learned abut one of the oldest populations of the world, the Mesopotamians who, Larson said, were very famous for setting the technique for making one of the most delicious foods eaten today: bread.
Larson talked about how they used to grind the grains and discovered how to use yeast.
“I think it’s made of dirt,” one child guessed about the origins of yeast before Larson explained it’s actually from the fungi kingdom and has the power to “transform flour into something yummy.”
Two young cooks “proofed” the yeast, waking it up with sugar. Larson explained that the sugar makes the yeast come alive and bubble and know it’s time to do its job to raise the bread.
The children rolled out their dough and flattened them into circles to grill. Using kid-safe knives they used the proper technique to slice eggplants and coat them in olive oil and carefully measured spoonfuls of spices to grill up as well.
Larson mans the stovetop and the grill in her classes for safety reasons.
The kids also grinded their own fragrant cumin, broke up a clove of garlic with a “ninja karate chop” and combined the ingredients with mashed-up garbanzo beans for the hummus.
“Hummus is one of my favorite meals,” said student Peter, inspecting the consistency of their hummus. Some insisted the dip needed more spice but as not all palates are the same, Larson settled for an extra sprinkling of salt.
The students remembered the shape and size of their pitas as they came off the grill and sat down to sample their cooking. Even the eggplant-wary students tried at least a bite of the vegetable and many came back for second helpings of their hummus.
“The biggest reward really is in each and every student that shares their cooking stories, that are excited about making and trying new foods and they write me the most amazing thank you notes,” Larson said. “It’s the feeling of making a positive impact by teaching kids a vital life skill.”
Cook for Thought classes can also be part of fundraisers or team building, birthday parties, Girl Scout “cook” badges, food writing or speaking, and custom-tailored projects. For more information, call (858) 242-2341 or visit cookforthought.com.
Come “Cook for Thought” with Fernanda Larson at the Healthy Living Festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds this Sunday, March 22nd at 1pm!
___Fernanda Larson “Green eggs and yams! – Cooking up stories with a healthy twist”
In a whimsical combination of cooking techniques, healthy and seasonal produce and great fun, we will cook together a delicious “green garden fritatta over baked yam”. Come see how the whole family can participate in nourishing each other, while celebrating one of our most beloved stories!
Cook for Thought brings wellness centered, curriculum integrated culinary experiences wherever curious minds are hungry for knowledge.
We ‘re a fully equipped mobile teaching kitchen, where participants learn professional cooking techniques, increase their ingredient knowledge and execute recipes. Cook for Thought teaches more than cooking classes; we teach through cooking.
Fernanda Larson, MS, Certified Nutritionist, Founder & Director of Cook For Thought, has been teaching cooking classes for over 10 years. With a lifetime of eclectic culinary background and years of clinical nutrition, it was Motherhood and the belief that “cooking is a vital life skill” that fuel the creation of Cook for Thought.
Cook for Thought is featured in the November issue – North County Kids Magazine!
Cook for Thought’s director Fernanda Larson is a guest speaker at the National Fitness Awareness Expo in San Diego, Nov. 9th 2013:
DEL MAR — Fernanda Larson is a certified nutritionist and culinary instructor who uses cooking to teach reading, writing and arithmetic as well as science, social studies and other subjects to local elementary school students.
As founder of Cook for Thought, she imparts a sensory knowledge of American history by taking students on a culinary tour of the United States.
“American culture goes far deeper than hot dogs and hamburgers,” she said. “We discuss the Native American diet, which includes seeds, and learn how to make Three Sisters Stew where students roast quail, which is the California state bird. Students also learn how to make other regional favorites such as Manhattan clam chowder, fish tacos (Southern California), and cedar planked salmon (Seattle, Wash.).”
In 1997, Larson traveled from her home in southern Brazil to the United States to begin work on a master’s degree in nutrition at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash.
“I grew up in a gourmand family,” she explained. “Our family’s backbone was in the kitchen, and culinary roots were passed on inter-generationally in a natural, organic, intrinsic manner. Nutrition was a natural career path for me as I always had a curious mind and wanted to find the science behind everything.”
Larson’s early career revolved around clinical nutrition by preparing dietary recommendations, nutritional supplementation and computer-generated analysis. She was surprised to learn that few Americans know how to cook. This made it difficult for many of her clients to actually implement her nutritional recommendations.
“So I started teaching basic, healthy cooking with enormous success … and then I became a mother,” she explained. “I understood the immense potential that nutrition and culinary education has by observing my two young daughters learn through food and cooking. The multi-sensorial, experimental activities that can be developed through cooking are limitless.”
By working in the kitchen with Sophia, now 9, and Giulia, 3, Larson discovered that teaching through cooking was more powerful than simply teaching cooking. Last year the idea for Cook for Thought came about when Larson volunteered during a history segment about local Native American tribes in Sophia’s fourth-grade class at Del Mar Hills Academy.
“I had the idea of doing a cooking demonstration for the class highlighting the way local Native Americans harvested, stored, prepared and ate their food,” she said. “The teachers were extremely supportive, and the class was a huge success.”
As Larson presented her ideas to the school staff, more teachers wanted to get involved. The grade-specific assemblies developed into summer sessions titled, “Cooking through California’s History” and “America, the Delicious.”
Today, Larson offers enrichment classes, grade-specific assemblies and private parties.
“There are 10 to 12 different classes that I bring to school to complement whatever students are learning,” she said. “It’s completely mobile.”
Sophia is a competitive soccer player who has acquired real life applications from learning to cook with her mother.
“She cares for other people in ways like making a sports drink (Gatorade) using natural flavors and ingredients without food coloring or corn syrup,” Sophia explained.
The week of Sept. 30, Larson will launch an eight-week program titled, “Let’s Open a Restaurant” for grades two through five at the Del Mar Union School District where students will develop and implement a concept for a restaurant learning skills such as consumer research, business planning and marketing. The last day of class students will serve food from their “restaurant” to family members.
On Oct. 10, during Red Ribbon Week, Larson will make a presentation at an assembly at Del Mar Hills Academy where she’ll share her recipe for her natural “sports drink recipe” with more than 300 students and staff.
This holiday season, Larson is planning a winter camp titled, “Culinary Traditions Around the World.”
Larson’s own palate is eclectic.
“My favorite cuisine is the one that is spontaneous,” she said. “Open your fridge, find real food, use real tools, get your family involved and come up with something delicious! Let children chop, let them peel, let them sauté — let them give their own ideas on how a dish should look or taste. You are helping them create vital life skills!”
For more information about Larson’s upcoming classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (858) 242-2341 or visit her website, cookforthought.com.