Chef Ann Butler of 21 Spoons, a Midlothian restaurant recently crowned “Best Locally Owned Restaurant in Virginia” by Southern Living Magazine, is more than a local chef cooking up fresh and tasty food. She is also the proud owner of Edible Education, a culinary program designed to get kids excited about preparing real food through classes, enrichment programs, camps, birthday parties, and events. With Edible Education locations in Midlothian and Stony Point Fashion Park and two officially authorized locations in Atlanta as a test run for franchises, Ann hopes to reach and inspire children with fresh food, cooking techniques, and nutrition.
As a former Culinary Arts teacher, Ann was disappointed in the poor food choices her teenage students often made. She realized schools should educate kids much earlier than high school about food and nutrition. Starting in her garage, Ann launched Edible Education, working with local farmers to bring seasonal fresh foods to schools. In addition to supplying select schools with top-quality lunches, Ann founded the Kitchen a la Cart, a portable teaching kitchen business to utilize in schools. “Kids in forty-five states are getting excited about real food,” says Ann. “Most days, it is amazing. We get to cook with kids all day, and that is an enjoyable mission!”
Ann believes every child under age twelve should learn to prepare at least eighteen recipes. “We treat all our students like they are going to be chefs one day. They are either going to ‘chef” for their families, in a part-time job, or a future career,” Ann explains. “This drives professionalism home, and if a child doesn’t like a particular food, we ask them to try it to expand their palates so they might know how to make it different for their guests.” Edible Education prides itself on never doing for a child what they know how to do for themselves.
Whether camp, classes, after-school curriculums, or parties, Edible Education has a program for every child. Their chefs travel to schools throughout the school year to instruct kids enrolled in after-school activities. For children looking to come to Edible Education, courses start for those as young as three. Additionally, when school closes for breaks and holidays, Edible Education is open! Camp C.H.E.F. is available for ages 6-14 and operates Monday through Friday during the summer. Children can also host a fun and memorable birthday party at the Stony Point Fashion Park location, choosing from four different themes for up to ten guests.
Ann says, “Our most popular camp is So You Want to Open a Bakery.” The camp consists of three sessions, and the classes range from breakfast pastries to Master Mix Cookies and triple-tiered cakes. At the end of each session, the families come to their child’s “bakery,” where their child can show off their uniquely-named bakery, selected colors, fake money, and invitations. Edible Education offers So You Want to Open a Restaurant for the more serious kids. Each day is a competition, and the winning team gets to run their dish as a special at 21 Spoons. Ann says this is a truly empowering and well-deserved experience for the kids.
From teaching culinary classes with two of her high school students to teaching summer classes and training new teachers around the United States due to the successful Kitchen a la Cart, Ann has continued to grow Edible Education into a fun, hands-on, and genuinely enlightening program for children. “We truly never do for a child, what we know they can do for themselves,” Ann explains. “We never intended this to happen, but Edible Education has four Food Network child stars! All kids can cook, truly.”
To learn and have fun with culinary experts, schedule an educational class or check out birthday party themes for your child at edibleedu.com.
13566 Waterford Place
Midlothian VA 23112
Stony Point Fashion Park
9200 Stony Point Parkway
Richmond, VA 23235
“Edible Education has fostered my child’s love for cooking and given him confidence in the kitchen. As a parent, I appreciate them instilling the fundamentals of nutrition, healthy eating, and the importance of preparing foods from whole, fresh ingredients.” - Kati Sundt
"As a former high school culinary arts teacher, I saw many teens think junk food was an appropriate breakfast. After reading a CDC study that stated that if kids under age 12 receive just 50 hours of nutrition education, it can change how they think about food, I knew I had to reach a younger crowd, so I started Edible Education!" - Ann Butler