After School Programs

Helping Picky Eaters Become Adventurous

Beyond Fussy: Transforming Picky Eaters into Culinary Adventurers

Navigating the culinary world can be a delightful experience for an open palate, but for those less willing to venture beyond the familiar, it can be a fraught and challenging territory. Picky eaters, particularly children, often establish walls around certain foods that seem impenetrable, leading to a limited palette and, consequently, a restricted world of culinary and health opportunities. Parents and caregivers strive to break down these barriers, searching for the key that might unlock the adventure of eating. We have discovered several innovative and effective methods to transform picky eaters into culinary adventurers.

The Ingredients of Exposure

Just as a child must learn to walk before they can run, exposure to new foods is the foundational step toward culinary exploration. In the 5,000+ cooking club sessions Chefsville has completed in schools, we’ve immersed children in a multi-sensory experience with over 700 dishes. Tying these explorations back to subjects like math, science, language arts, and social studies, we have demonstrated that food is not an isolated entity but an integral part of life and learning. Through observing, touching, smelling, and tasting these foods in an educational environment, children begin to chip away at their culinary barriers.

One study from our classroom efforts revealed that regular interaction with diverse foods significantly increased the likelihood that children would willingly incorporate those foods into their diets at home. By creating positive, engaging, and non-threatening associations with a range of foods, these students learned to become more receptive eaters. This type of educational experience normalizes the idea of new and different foods, making them familiar rather than intimidating.

A Lexicon of Flavor

How can one enjoy the diverse and tantalizing offerings of the culinary world if one lacks the language to articulate their experiences? Our work with children underscores the necessity of a ‘food vocabulary;’ teaching young ones to express what they do and don’t like about a particular food can be an empowering stride in their culinary journeys. By providing them with descriptive words beyond ‘yuck’ or ‘yum’, the children, and indeed all picky eaters, begin to understand what it truly is that appeals to their palates or turns their stomachs.

Personal stories of influential families echo this sentiment, where the implementation of a “try bite” rule elicited long-term changes in eating habits. Parents observed remarkable shifts in their children’s willingness to explore and accept new foods once this simple sharing of opinions and experiences was introduced. It is not a stretch to suggest that the ability to express one’s preferences cultivates a feeling of agency and autonomy in one’s eating habits.

The Act of Making the Meal

Engaging children in the process of preparing food offers a tangential route to desensitization. In a cooking c!ass or at home, by participating in the making of a meal, picky eaters become invested in the outcome and, often, in the tasting. The sense of accomplishment and ownership that results from making something with their own hands can be a powerful motivator to try a finished dish. This “wall-breaking” has been witnessed time and again in case studies, as the act of making the meal becomes an act of open-mindedness and curiosity.

Children, even the most vociferous critics of some foods, can be transformed into the most ardent champions when they are involved in the cooking process. Health professionals and dietitians swear by this tactic, amply demonstrated in many households where children have been involved in meal planning and preparation. The impact can be palpable, resulting in not only a diverse diet but also a more balanced and healthy one.

Sugarcoating the Truth

A controversial yet critical aspect of transforming picky eaters is the gradual but necessary debunking of sugar’s sway over their eating habits. In the real world, our health and well-being do not hinge on confections alone. It is vital for children, at some point, to recognize the importance of making healthier eating choices. Cooking classes and interactive educational programs stress the diversity of the food palette, steering away from the sugar-laden “treats” that often dominate the preferences of picky eaters.

Educational strategies and fun, interactive tools have demonstrated that the allure of sugary foods can be gradually replaced by a sense of adventure in trying new foods. Some examples include the use of ‘food passports’ or visual aids that make trying new foods an exciting game, rewarding participants with a stamp or sticker. These positive reinforcements play a significant role in broadening their food horizons, steering them towards a healthier, more varied diet.

The Art of the Possible

Culinary exploration isn’t just about expanding one’s palate; it’s about teaching openness, curiosity, and life skills. Engaging with picky eaters through exposure, vocabulary-building, and the act of making a meal empowers them to see food as an adventure filled with endless possibilities. It’s an approach that extends beyond the dinner table, educating them on culture, health, and the sheer joy of trying something new and unexpected.

By sharing these insights and the successes we’ve witnessed firsthand, we offer parents, educators, and all those involved in nurturing children the tools to redefine the dinner struggle into a gateway for exploration and growth. The next generation of eaters is waiting to discover the rich tapestry of flavors that the world has to offer — all we need to do is extend our hand and guide them through the door.


The transformation of a picky eater into a culinary enthusiast is not a Herculean task reserved for the gourmet elite. It is a process that, as we have demonstrated, can be achieved through exposure, education, engagement, and the joy of creation. By intertwining the practical with the pleasurable, we have the opportunity to guide children towards a healthier and more adventurous relationship with food. Our approach has yielded tangible results, showing that with the right ingredients, even the most discerning eaters can become culinary adventurers.

Trusting a Process

Nurturing Patience: Teaching Kids to Trust the Process in 2024

In the digital age, where instant gratification is the norm, a growing concern among parents and educators is the prevailing issue of children’s reluctance to trust processes with longer-term outcomes. The trend is especially troubling in 2024, as the fast-paced world of technology continues to shape expectations and decrease patience. Understanding that success is seldom immediate and often the result of persistence and discipline is a challenge for today’s youth.

This problem is problematic because it undermines the development of essential life skills such as perseverance, problem-solving, and delayed gratification—skills imperative for long-term success in an ever-evolving global landscape. Without faith in the process, children are more apt to give up in the face of adversity, leading to missed opportunities for growth and learning.

To curb this trend, parents and educators must employ strategic approaches to foster a culture of process trust among children:

  1. Set Realistic Expectations: Communicate that goals often require effort and time, laying out stages and milestones to build a roadmap to success.
  2. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledging incremental progress helps children see the value in sticking with a task.
  3. Embrace ‘Yet’: Encourage the use of growth mindset language such as “I haven’t mastered it yet,” which implies that learning is ongoing.
  4. Storytelling: Share stories of personal or historical figures who succeeded because they adhered to their process.
  5. Model Patience: Children learn from observation. When parents and educators practice patience, children emulate these behaviors.
  6. Create a Supportive Environment: Offering support when children face challenges teaches them to seek help and use resources effectively.

By taking these steps, we can guide the next generation toward embracing processes, trusting that their efforts will eventually bear fruit, and building a foundation for lifelong resilience and success.

In a classroom setting, it’s vital to design activities that underscore the importance of perseverance and the value inherent in the journey toward a goal. Here are a few classroom activity ideas that can encourage students to “trust the process”:

  1. Project-Based Learning: Implement long-term projects that require planning, research, and execution over time. Reflecting on each phase promotes an understanding of gradual progress.
  2. Growth Chart: Have students create personal growth charts where they can visually track skill development or learning in a specific area, reinforcing the idea of continuous improvement.
  3. Reflection Journals: Encourage students to keep journals where they record challenges they face and strategies they employ to overcome them, fostering a reflective practice on the learning process.
  4. The “Marble Jar” Technique: Introduce a collective classroom goal and add marbles to a jar for group accomplishments, demonstrating how small contributions lead to achieving a larger objective.
  5. Skill Mastery Ladders: Use visual ladders to represent levels of achievement in various subjects or skills, so students can see their ascent as they master each new level.

By incorporating these types of activities, educators can make the abstract concept of “trusting the process” or “process trust” tangible and encourage a patience-oriented mindset among students.

At home, families play a pivotal role in reinforcing the understanding and appreciation of processes. Here are some family-centered activities that can help cultivate patience and process trust in children:

  1. Cooking or Baking Together: Engage children in cooking or baking, where they can witness the transformation of ingredients into a finished dish over time, emphasizing the significance of following steps and being patient for the end result.
  2. Gardening: Starting a small garden allows kids to learn about the lifecycle of plants. It teaches them to care for something over time and to wait for plants to grow and bear fruit.
  3. Puzzle Building: Working on jigsaw puzzles as a family activity can be a fun way to illustrate how many small pieces come together to complete a big picture, reinforcing the importance of perseverance.
  4. Reading Books Series: Introduce a book series that can be read over an extended period. This nurtures a habit of following a longer narrative and waiting to see how the story unfolds.
  5. Home Improvement Projects: Include children in home DIY projects that span over a few weeks or months. This can give them a sense of contribution to a larger goal and the satisfaction of seeing a project through to completion.
  6. Saving for a Family Goal: Start a family savings jar for something special, like a trip or a group activity. This teaches children the value of saving and waiting for something they want.

By engaging in these at-home activities, families provide practical experiences that illustrate the benefits of trusting the process, ultimately helping children to internalize patience and resilience.

Birdcall Grand Opening in Richardson

Two special events are listed in this post regarding the success of Chefsville and Birdcall Restaurant location in Richardson, TX – grand opening.

1. On Sunday, 2/18/2024, 19 kids and 30 parents got to celebrate a free kids salad-making class sponsored by Birdcall Restaurant Group.

Birdcall donated ingredients and talent to work with Chef Scott and the Chefsville staff.

Birdcall’s Chef Amador Acosta and staff had a great time working with Chefsville delivering a free kids’ salad-making program. Vids Below.

Chef Amador Acosta – Birdcall and Chef Scott – Chefsville. Note the giant size of the pomegranate being held.

2. Birdcall’s grand opening was on 2/19/24 followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. Chef Scott got drenched with champagne.

Chefsville board present to receive Birdcall’s donation.
Ribbon Cutting for Birdcall location in Richardson Texas by the Chamber of Commerce

Now how about some vids from this totally awesome kids cooking class:

For a great time, head out to Birdcall restaurants who have multiple locations in Texas, please tell the Chefsville sent you: Birdcall Restaurant Link

Chefsville humbly thanks Birdcall Holdings LLC for its kind and generous gift. We can’t wait to see it on the “Impact” page.

Helping Kids Focus While in the Kitchen Cooking

Attention, all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! Get ready to have your minds blown because we’re about to talk about your amazing children! And “yes”, they can learn how to focus while cooking with Chefsville!

We believe that every cooking skill can be mastered with the right focus. That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide filled with awesome tips to help your kids develop their focus while tackling any task.

Prepare to be amazed as we unveil the secrets to helping your kids become superstars in the kitchen! Let’s dive in and discover the world of focused cooking together!

For this activity, please print both the front and back of each of these documents. The 1st document is about “focus” itself and defining it so kids can remember. The second PDF shows many kitchen skills.

The idea is to have quality time with the child, or make it an around-the-table discussion over a meal to engage your kids in meaningful dialog about “focus”.  Simply ask “How can you focus while doing [kitchen skill listed in the document]?

This allows for your input and to see your child(ren) feel comfortable with the task, and identify any barriers you want to address to help them overcome if they bring up obstacles keeping them from being successful with a kitchen skill.

Happy Cooking with the Family!


Please download the 2 PDFs for this family activity:

Helping Kids to Focus In The Kitchen PDF Cooking Skills List PDF



Hints for Partially Fresh Meals


Are you looking for a tasty meal to make at home? We have the perfect solution! With partially fresh ingredients, you can whip up something delicious in no time. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1) Before cooking, make sure all your cooking equipment is clean. Wash the pans, cutting boards and knives before you start cooking. This will help you make a tasty meal at home.

2) Decide if you are wanting to use an oven, stove, or open flame/grill. Get your equipment to support the cooking technique being employed for the dinner. Then pick out your ingredients and get cooking!

3) Start with a nutritious base like quinoa or brown rice and top it off with your favorite veggies like bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.

One modern approach and one Chefsville recommends is to decide on your vegetable first, then pick the supporting cast of the meal. Decide vegetarian or carnivorous. Select a protein (meat, fish, eggs, chicken, pork, shellfish, buffalo, venison, emu, bear, snake or other). The prior sentence was meant for the international crowd who would read this posting.

4) For added flavor, throw in some herbs and spices like oregano or chili powder.

If you’re looking for something heartier, try making a delicious pasta dish with partially fresh ingredients (boxed or fresh pasta and a jarred or canned sauce). Start by boiling your favorite noodles and then add in partially fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and any other veggies you like. Top it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and you’ll have an amazing meal in no time!

5) Finally, partially fresh ingredients can also be used to make delicious soups or stews. Start by making a fresh stock or buy your favorite broth. There is nothing wrong with making a partially fresh meal. You can even get premade sauces that make your meal zing!

One could always add in some stock or broth, ingredients, proteins, and spices then simmer a soup for 30 minutes before serving. Add herbs last to give take the soup to the next level of deliciousness.

No matter what you choose to make, partially fresh ingredients are a great way to create a delicious meal at home! With these ideas, you’ll have something tasty on the table in no time. Enjoy!

Making Desserts with Less Processed Sugar

Almost all of us love desserts!

Desserts are often loaded with processed sugar, making them a not-so-healthy treat. But there are ways to make desserts using less processed sugar, without sacrificing taste. Here are some tips for making healthier desserts that the whole family will enjoy.


Cut back on your processed sugar intake by incorporating delicious, unrefined sugars (naturally smart sugars) in your desserts. Natural “smart sugars” like coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, dates, sorghum and molasses are all delicious and nutritious alternatives to overly processed white sugar. These delicious natural sweeteners can enhance the flavor of baked goods and give you a more wholesome treat. Plus, they often contain valuable nutrients such as zinc, potassium and magnesium that when consumed in moderation can help satisfy cravings without filling you with empty calories. So why not try using less processed sugar (naturally “smart sweeteners”) in your favorite desserts? Your taste buds – and metabolism – will thank you!


There are many sugar substitutes out there but most of those are processed also. There have been no studies conducted, at the time of this writing, indicating long-term health effects. Why risk using unknown/new fad sugars? My suggestion is to use “smart sweeteners” which will reduce health risks by consuming excess processed sugars greatly.

One recipe that we will do in the next blog post is mini Pavlovas. I’m actually experimenting with this recipe now so that we can add it to our kids cooking club and holiday baking programs. It is important to note that when using these alternatives, the amount of temperature, the ratio of smart sugar to another ingredient, and the cooking time may be adjusted. But your experimenting will pay off big time. Taste really won’t be affected and you will be a “family hero” just for trying.

Natural wild honey varies in flavor based on where it came from. Let adventures begin!

For example, when substituting honey for sugar in a recipe, use only half or two-thirds of the amount of sugar called for in a recipe because honey is sweeter than sugar. Additionally, if using honey, dates or maple syrup for baking it is important to reduce the oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit and increase the cooking time slightly. This will prevent burning the dessert or creating bitter notes.