Restaurant camp for kids: Will novel San Francisco program uncover next Wolfgang Puck?

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She’s only 9 years old, but Lucia Nino-Sears can already envision her dream restaurant.

The entire space would be encased in glass, with a big kitchen and bright orange bar stools and banquettes. Despite the budding restaurateur’s love of baking, this eatery — we’ll call it Lucia’s — “would have all savory things, including lots of avocado toast,” and maybe even Nino-Sears’ signature Cappellini with Lemon and Yogurt. She mastered that at seven.

The San Carlos foodie is one of 15 kids participating in a restaurant camp this week at Gibson, an elegant New American restaurant inside San Francisco’s Hotel Bijou, where they’ll learn everything from concept development and point of sale to knife skills and how to break down a chicken.

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These kids are part of a generation that caught the cooking bug early, cracking eggs at a tender age alongside mom or dad, taking kid-centered cooking classes, watching Food Network and aspiring to “MasterChef Junior.” They make fresh pasta and sous vide with the Joule. Isn’t summer camp in an upscale San Francisco restaurant the next logical step?

“Ultimately we want to empower kids to learn how to cook for themselves and their families and lead healthy lives,” says Karen Rogers, director of Oakland’s Sprouts Cooking Club, a non-profit that runs the camp and has partnered with Gibson for the summer.

That is certainly the focus of a typical Sprouts cooking class, but this new in-restaurant camp has an unmistakable entrepreneurial edge, Rogers says, for kids “who crave a little more grit.” It’s like a crash course in the fine dining business.

“We want to show them everything that goes into running a restaurant,” says Adam Chapman, Gibson’s director of operations, who works closely with the campers and helped develop the curriculum. “Pretty much everything we do here on a daily basis, they’re doing.”

The week-long camp, which will run again July 30-Aug. 3, is open to kids ages 9 to 14 and costs $750, though partial and full scholarships are available. The camp culminates on Friday with a camper-led lunch service for 60, with a food critic present. It’s open to the public — though, naturally, most tables are filled with proud family members and friends.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

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