Teach kids to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and, by extension, their families, by giving

them the education and tools they need to feel confident in the kitchen;



The idea behind Jr. Chef Central is simple: teach kids, ages 10-15, how to cook!

It started in the fall of 2006…Having been bombarded with news headlines about the state of health of America’s children, I struggled to connect the dots—why were kids, living in the food bowl of America, also fraught with obesity, diabetes, and other food related challenges, despite the abundance of seasonal fresh produce in California?



Bridging the Gap…

Recognizing food as a common denominator, use it to bridge cultural, economic, and

social divides among young people. Build a foundation based on solid culinary skills, nutritional facts,

and the table as a community: where participants learn to be comfortable wherever and with whomever

they were breaking bread—no matter the company, place, or occasion.


One Plate at a Time…

Reinforce the “circle-of-life” of food — from the farm, to the market, to the grocery store, to their plates – so kids become educated cooks and consumers.

The Basics…

Use time-tested methods of instruction to accomplish our mission: Treat every child as
capable of accomplishing every task required; tell, demonstrate, assist, let go.

Purposeful approach:

Through our program, instructors and culinary professionals learn to consistently
impart information to young people whether in small classes of 12, groups of 75, or crowds of many
more. Our methodology has worked with children from all walks of life and with multiple levels of


Skills for a Lifetime….

Over the years, we’ve Jr. Chef Central continues to be the recipient of a decades
long-running grant funded program targeting lower-income elementary students, positively and directly
impacting the lives of thousands of children. has taken part in a UC Davis academic research program on
the correlation between health-enhancing experiences for kids and academic performance; Our work
has been recognized by state and national organizations; was featured in a UC Davis academic research
program on the correlation between health-enhancing experiences for kids and academic performance;
continues to be supported by major culinary industry suppliers; and promoted online and in print by
regional and international publications.

Through it all, the program has remained committed to food
education, always focusing on teamwork, safety and, sanitation, and preparing dishes that
kids can make at home using fresh, seasonal produce.

Generational Impact…

Parents have constantly said “I can’t believe you got my child to eat this!”

The truth is, we didn’t get them to do anything they didn’t want to do.  Because they had a hand in

deciding what to make, and two hands in making it, they were eager to eat – and just as proud to

share what they made with others! And they continue to do so, long after they’ve outgrown the

program, as evidenced by these Jr. Chef Alumni testimonials.


Karla Lacey, Founder



To register for classes, visit:


Interested in becoming a Jr. Chef Licensee or Affiliate? Details can be found here!

Jr. Chef International