Children’s Cooking Classes

It has been 20 years so I figure it’s about time to tell the story of how I really got started teaching children’s cooking classes.  It was during Phase Two of my year-long culinary studies at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD that Francois Dionot, the Director of the school, told us about an organization called the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).  He said that joining the association and attending the conference was a great way to meet the movers and shakers in the world of cooking.  (He didn’t actually say movers and shakers, but it would have sounded great with his French accent none the less.)  He mentioned that the next conference was in San Antonio.

Most of my classmates had found jobs in the restaurant world with a few of them returning to their real, steady, good-paying (i.e. non-culinary) jobs.  I had decided that I wanted to teach cooking and was struggling to get established.  The going was slow but steady as I started teaching after-school cooking programs and began offering a few classes at L’Academie de Cuisine.  I decided to go to IACP finding I had just enough credit left on my credit card to pull it off.

I flew to San Antonio, got to the conference site and picked up my registration swag bag.  I went to my hotel, checked in and put my name tag around my neck and went back to the conference.  It is easy to meet people when you are there because of your love of food, and the fact you are wearing a name tag.  My name tag said:

   Joel Olson


The first question was always, “What do you do?”  “I teach cooking classes!” I enthused. “Oh.” was the polite response.  It turns out that the IACP was formerly the International Association of Cooking Schools, it seemed that everybody at the conference taught or had taught cooking classes.  After more than a couple of tepid introductions, I added one word to my description, “I teach children’s cooking classes.” “Ohhh. Really!”  They added a couple of letters and a word to their response.

Realizing I was on to something, I decided to go for it.  I can remember the face but not the name of the first person I told, “I teach Children’s Cooking, Manners and Etiquette Classes.”  I don’t recall exactly what they said in return, but do know we ended up talking for a bit.  And it wasn’t more than an hour later at the opening cocktail reception that I overheard several people talking about a guy from Washington, DC “who teaches Children’s Cooking, Manners and Etiquette classes” and wasn’t that great!  I knew then what I was going to start doing when I got back home to DC.

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