Little Kitchen Academy the Key Ingredient
Little Kitchen Academy is the key ingredient for an independent child. The first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen is focused on providing a safe, inspiring, and empowering space for children to identify, develop, and refine their senses. LKA was co-founded by proven global brand and franchise expert and serial entrepreneur Brian Curin, his wife, Montessori-trained, culinary expert, and visionary Felicity Curin, and social impact investor and entrepreneur Praveen Varshney, on the belief that by empowering children with practical life skills and knowledge in a positive and joyful environment, LKA will affect positive lifestyle changes that result in a healthier world.
True to its mission, LKA lives to create a more educated, able, and healthy society through mindful, healthy eating choices, and is committed to changing lives, from scratch to consumption. Part of that mission includes empowering students to learn how they can make the world a better place through How Can I Help by Little Kitchen Academy, LKA’s signature philanthropic program, supporting Crisis Text Line, The Global FoodBanking Network, Kids Help Phone, and One Tree Planted. In addition to charitable partnerships, LKA has forged strategic global brand partnerships with Iron Chef Cat Cora, AeroGarden, BIRKENSTOCK, ChefWorks, Emeco, ChopValue, Welcome Industries, and PRISE Inc. Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship venues are located in Vancouver, B.C., and Los Angeles, Calif.
Little Kitchen Academy’s Montessori-inspired environment is designed to support the growth and development of each child. Instructors show the students how to safely use tools, but step back to closely observe the independent work, only stepping in when safety is a concern. This approach enables students to learn at their own pace while they acquire practical life skills that foster independence, confidence, and socialization. LKA further empowers students to make better food choices, to apply age-appropriate math and science skills in real-world settings, and embrace practices such as recycling, composting, and the concept of philanthropy in order to make positive, socially conscious contributions to the world through its global philanthropic initiative “How Can I Help,” which empowers students to learn about giving back and making a difference by putting the choice in their hands to support one of four notable causes.
Seasonal sessions run year-round and are organized by age group (ages 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and 13+ years old). Students experience a 3-hour class once a week during the school year or over 5 consecutive days during Summer, Winter & Spring breaks. Each week, they learn how to make healthy, delicious, and seasonal meals from scratch to consumption—all while experimenting with math and science concepts, working on their reading skills, and polishing up their table manners and engaging socially by sharing meals around our community table (made with 33,436 recycled chopsticks). Sessions are limited to just 10 students and are overseen by three instructors. The curriculum focuses on seasonal, locally grown, and organic produce and ingredients, and students enjoy the fruits of their labor for a “scratch to consumption” experience at the end of each lesson.
We encourage our students to plant, nurture, harvest and prepare produce because we know that when we are an active participant in our food choices, we will try them – and more often than not – enjoy them. Our living food wall powered by Aerogarden has plants at different stages of growth so we can observe, care for, and enjoy the literal ‘fruits of our labor.” Perhaps, a child who has always said she doesn’t like tomatoes will discover that she, in fact, does like tomatoes when they’ve been picked, washed, chopped and slightly seasoned…or maybe caramelized in the oven with garlic and salt and pepper.
Our recipes highlight fresh seasonal produce and ingredients and allow for adjustments for dietary needs and preferences. We aim to provide locally grown, organic products where possible. All of our recipes are meat, poultry, nut, and seafood free.
We also accommodate children with a variety of learning or other disabilities. LKA is a totally inclusive environment, and we believe our curriculum is for every child.
Originally, our vision started out with just one Little Kitchen Academy location in Vancouver but as we began to look at the concept more and as began to share it with our network, everyone kept saying, “You need to do this, you need to take this global”. Everyone was so excited by the idea and kept asking us what we needed to make it happen. They all wanted their children to experience it or to own their own location or to just help make the vision a reality. When we heard that, we knew this had to be bigger than just one location and started to plan how we could share this gift with as many communities.
After the first location opened, it was even more clear that there was not only a desire for more Little Kitchen Academy locations, but a need. Classes at the flagship in Vancouver would fill up so quickly that there would be more than 200 children on the waitlist. Families wanted their child to learn practical life skills while building their independence and confidence at LKA.
The Little Kitchen Academy family has a deep knowledge of and proven track record in the franchise industry, led by Co-Founder/Co-CEO and President, Brian Curin. Brian is a visionary and innovative business leader who has founded, led, and transformed several Inc. 500|5000 companies. He’s built some of the most exciting and fastest-growing brands globally including Little Kitchen Academy, Flip Flop Shops, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Cold Stone Creamery.
Thanks to the innovative pedagogy and vision led by Felicity combined with Brian’s proven franchise expertise, strong leadership, and brand building experience, Little Kitchen Academy has grown rapidly. In just over two years the company has expanded from one location, which opened in June 2019 in Vancouver, Canada, to seven locations now open and operating in both Canada and the US and more than 140 locations in development across North America.