Cresskill Cooking Studio Debuts Prepared Foods and 500 Calorie Bento Box Meals
WannaBee Chef, cooking school and farm-to-table restaurant, reports that enrollment in its Kids Camp has doubled in the past year, along with bridal and bachelorette parties. “We have seen a huge increase in our bachelorette parties, with both younger and mature brides,” said owner and Chef Rama Ginde, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and Certified Holistic Health Counselor.
“People are eager to get practical skills and creative approaches to cooking and entertaining. Our Mommy and Me (ages 3-6) classes, drop-off cooking classes for kids ages 7-12, along with Mom’s Night Out classes and custom private classes have really taken off. In 2011, we had over 770 kids come through for birthday parties alone. People are getting back to basics, want to be able to create a healthy, tasty meal, have fun with food instead of feeling threatened by preparing it and want their kids to have these real life skills as well.”
To kick off summer for children, WannaBee Chef will be hosting a summer camp “open house” two days in June. The first will be on Saturday, June 2nd from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the second will be hosted on Friday, June 8th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Families are encouraged to call WannaBee Chef and RSVP for the event, which will include a tour of the cooking studio, a healthy lunch cooking demonstration, and complimentary lunch. Any children who sign up for the summer camp program on those days receive 10 percent off any camp. The camp will focus on teaching kids how to cook healthy and diverse dishes, while also participating in weekly pilates sessions and taking culinary-themed field trips.
For those who don't have the time or inclination to cook, Chef Rama offers prepared foods and 500 calorie bento boxes. "Our farm-to-table To Go prepared foods business has grown in popularity and we are now offering a range of wheat-free, dairy-free and vegan options in addition to our traditional fare. Quinoa salads, seafood, meat entrees and a vibrant mix of American classics, lighter Asian fare and zesty Indian cuisine bring lots of dimension to our To Go menu. For those who are looking to limit calories and be mindful about portions without skimping on taste, our 500 calorie bento boxes, starting at $12, are ideal. These lunch and dinner meals in a box are as good for the palette as they are for the waistline," said Chef Rama.
The Cresskill cooking studio is popular for kids’ and adult birthday parties, private and group cooking lessons and corporate events, hosting corporate competitions to build team cohesion and the ability to work under pressure. “Cooking is and ought to be fun. WannaBee Chef has a warm, festive environment that immediately puts people at ease, taking all the fear out of cooking,” explained Chef Rama.
Adult parties enable participants to choose a theme, like the Iron Chef-inspired “Kitchen Challenge” and have exclusive use of the studio to cook, talk and eat their creations. There are similar packages for Moms’ Night Out and adult birthday parties, even Men’s Only Nights, which have seen an increase in enrollment. Adult events are BYOB for the 21 and over crowd.
Additionally, WannaBee Chef offers child-centric programs that focus on healthy food choices, expanding the palette, portion control and basic cooking skills. The studio offers a range of classes for children and teens, ranging from birthday parties to cooking classes to summer camp, which aim to teach children cooking skills and how to eat healthy. “As a mother of two kids and someone who grew up in an environment where food was constantly the center of family life, I am eager to share my passion for preparing and enjoying food as a family affair,” added Chef Rama. “People tend to eat without being aware they are eating, whether it’s out of frustration or zoned out in front of the TV. I believe that when you are involved with the preparation of healthy food and enjoy it with friends or family, you may be less likely to overindulge.”
WannaBee Chef’s ingredient lists emphasize organic and local fresh items. “I use my classic culinary training and knowledge as a certified Holistic Health Counselor to take menu planning and food preparation to a new level, helping students or simply patrons of our prepared foods make smart choices that are as tasty as they are healthful,” explained Chef Rama.
The Tea Party birthday party package for 3-6 year olds allows children to make flower shaped cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, square turkey and cheese sandwiches, homemade jelly, strawberry napoleon and mini cupcakes. For 7-16 year olds, packages range from Paparazzi Pizza to Royal China, Sushi Making and Mediterranean themes. Other birthday party packages typically have three or four courses, with a main dish, at least one fruit or vegetable side and dessert.
While the birthday parties have always been popular with children and their parents, WannaBee Chef’s After School Chef Program has experienced its largest enrollment this year. The 10-week program offers two sessions, one for beginners and another for intermediate chefs. The program includes a WannaBee Chef apron, recipes, snack, and dinner. Birthday party packages start at $336. Children’s classes start at $25.
“Kids are eager to learn and love being able to play with their food in terms of making something delicious from a bag of ingredients from the farmers market and pantry. They quickly grasp the difference between processed and freshly prepared, whole foods and knowing that my class is helping them stay healthier is truly gratifying,” Chef Rama explained.
About Chef Rama Ginde and Wanna Bee Chef
Owner and Chef Rama Ginde, 29, lives with her family in northern NJ. Chef Rama, of Indian descent, grew up in Puerto Rico, where she developed a strong passion for cooking from her mother, who exposed her to her native Indian food, Latin cuisine and other types of cuisines. Not only did Chef Rama cherish this special bonding time with her mother in the kitchen, she learned to appreciate the connection between food and culture, drawing her closer to her Indian roots. Besides spending time with her mother, Chef Rama was drawn to cooking as a means of serving others, enjoying the pleasure that a good, home-cooked meal brought to family and friends. In time, Chef Rama also began to view cooking as a form of art and took great pride in creating aesthetically appealing dishes.
Moving with her family to the New York City area in 1999 at age 17, Chef Rama went on to receive a bachelor's degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating from the CIA, Chef Rama took a restaurant management course at the French Culinary Institute and later became certified as a Holistic Health Counselor from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University's Teachers College. In addition, Chef Rama’s culinary training also includes work as a cook at Jean Georges, a supervisor at Thomas Keller's Bouchon and an assistant manager at Hyatt Group of Hotels.
WannaBee Chef, located at 18 Union Avenue in Cresskill, NJ and open Monday through Friday from 10AM-7PM and weekends for special events, is Bergen county’s premier cooking studio. Offering fun, inspiring basic skills and specialized classes for children, teens and adults, WannaBee Chef also provides a delicious array of prepared foods (ideal for lunch or dinner) and beverages, 500 calorie Bento box meals, boutique catering, farm-to-table events and classes. WannaBee Chef’s prepared foods are also sold at local farmers markets in northern NJ including: River Vale (Thursdays), Emerson (Sundays), Tenafly (Sundays), Fort Lee (Sundays) and Haworth (Tuesdays). For more information on WannaBee Chef, personal and group classes, summer camp, private events and parties, please visit www.wannabeechef.com or call 201-503-0335.