Meet Chef Tiffany of the Kids Creative School
Tiffany Cavegn – affectionately known as Chef Tiffany – is the founder of the Kids Creative School and takes part in every detail from teaching to accounting to taking out the trash. Keep reading to learn about how this small but mighty non-profit was born and why she dedicates all of her time to it’s mission.
How It All Started
After decades of working for other people and promoting their products or passions, I found myself publicly answering the age-old question: what I would do if time and money were no object?
“I would do something to tackle childhood obesity,” came out of my mouth without warning.
Immediately, I didn’t know what to say or what to do. Not only was I with a group of clients who paid good money to come to the workshop that I was supporting, but my boss my watching me intently. So I did what I normally do when I put my foot in my mouth – I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and let the next person answer the question.
If you had told me how that one sentence was going to change my life, I probably would have kept quiet. Fortunately, when destiny comes calling it doesn’t always give you any warnings.
Within 2 months I was gently pushed out of the nest by my very caring and supportive boss (a gentleman, btw) and embarked on a journey that has had more impact on me than any other experience in my lifetime.
Why Teach Cooking Classes?
I spent almost a year after that public announcement figuring out what tackling childhood obesity meant to me. My children were very young at the time and I instinctively knew it started with happy memories in the kitchen. I had recently been teaching myself to cook because nobody taught me as a child. Neither my mother, my grandmother, or my stepmother liked to cook, so I don’t have wonderful memories of cooking or baking in the kitchen as a child. As a child, we ate dinner on TV trays in front of – you guessed it – the TV! As an adult, I could only make your basic tacos and spaghetti. Recipe experiments were a disaster.
I remember trying to make spaghetti squash and couldn’t figure out why I was getting the stringy-noodle-like results when I scraped my fork inside a baked squash. I took pictures and sent them to my self-appointed cooking instructor, otherwise known as my foodie neighbor Amy. She was quite puzzled. “I’m not sure. I haven’t seen an orange spaghetti squash before. That’s weird.”
Upon inspection of the little produce sticker, it turns out I was trying to make spaghetti out of a butternut squash. It’s a neighborhood joke to this day, but it motivated me to really learn about food and nutrition. I enrolled in the Dr. Sears program and became a certified health coach and took several online cooking classes. In my own little kitchen I learned to cook with my toddler and preschooler right there with me. They learned to chop vegetables very early and still eat vegetables to this day. I learned through my own experience that kids eat what they cook.
I loved teaching my kids to cook, but clearly I had much to learn. So I went to an online culinary school and then started teaching the neighborhood kids how to cook through Centennial Community Education. That’s when the idea of The Kids Cooking School was born. I started with classes for parents but not many parents were interested in changing their own eating habits, much less a complete overhaul for their entire family. That’s when the director at Community Ed suggested a class specifically for kids.
I created a 4-day summer cooking class for kids and it sold out – three times over. That’s when I learned that was a huge need for this kind our resource for families. Not all parents know how to teach their kids how to cook. Some of them don’t even know themselves or just don’t have the time or the inclination to clean up the inevitable mess.
In October 2016 I found a private investor and rented space that just happened to be across the street from my house. It felt like fate was jumping up and down and screaming at me. Since I wanted to be able to include students from all walks of life, I created The Kids Cooking School as a nonprofit organization with the mission to teach kids to love cooking with real food. It is the mission of The Kids Cooking School – and my personal JOY – to create a fun atmosphere where your children have the opportunity to develop healthy habits, self-confidence, and a positive attitude through the power of cooking. That’s been my guiding light since we opened in 2017.
We have definitely had our ups and downs since our grand opening in 2017. We had to move out of that space in 2018, found a temporary home for the summer of 2019, and finally found our current location and signed a lease 2 weeks before the world turned upside down due to Covid-19 in February 2020. I’m grateful that we are still teaching kids how to cook, but the journey doesn’t stop here.
Rebranding as the Kids Creative School
When Covid-19 hit and our class size was reduced to 50% for a second summer in a row, I knew we had to do something or we would go out of business. We started a Virtual Community for students to learn how to cook at home with video lessons that I created and added a second classroom for creative classes. With the new program additions, the name didn’t quite fit any more so we made a slight change to encompass all types of creative outlets.