Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Jessi Brelsford, owner of Taste Buds Kitchen. Jessi and her husband, Jeff (who just joined TBK full-time), live in Murray Hill, after having lived seven years in a 5th floor walk-up in the West Village.
How would you sum up Taste Buds Kitchen? How did it start?
Taste Buds Kitchen offers fresh and creative culinary events for kids and families ages two to adults. We love kids, families and food! Cooking birthday parties, summer camps and our in-school after-school programs are our most popular offerings. Our home base is our Kids Kitchen in Chelsea but we also have satellite locations at FAO Schwarz and in Bridgehampton for the summer.
I started Taste Buds as a hobby back in 2007 when I was working full-time on Wall Street. A few baking classes later, I made it into a full-time business and I haven’t looked back since. I love the challenge and adventure of being a small business owner and bringing smiles to the budding chefs of NYC through our lip-smacking culinary adventures.
Why is food important to you and your family? What are you trying to teach your children about food?
My husband and I love food and, of course, we love to eat. The best part of my day is a glass of wine and one of my husband’s home cooked meals. I love that food brings people together and offers the opportunity for connection in the kitchen. I enjoy exploring all of the tastes, textures and combinations and, most of all, the conversation and fun that happens in the kitchen. And of course being a resident New Yorker, I love checking out all restaurants and markets and pursuing my never-ending quest for the best cup of hot chocolate.
My passion for the kitchen started in high school when my mom, sister and I started hosting a weekly “gourmet night” for my family. Each week, we’d each be in charge of a course — starter, main and dessert — and the only rules were that it had to be a new recipe. We had a blast and I love the recipes that we discovered and, to this day, make them often.
Tell us a bit about what kids will learn in the Taste Buds Kitchen classes?
We make everything from scratch and have a blast doing it! The kids learn so much, from measuring, to kneading and decorating, to more advanced Iron Chef type challenges. The younger chefs work on ingredient identification, tastes and textures while older chefs whip up gourmet meals from scratch without following a recipe. We strive to keep food and kitchen knowledge age appropriate and, most of all, to keep the classes fun. Our BYOB adult classes are also a ton of fun and a great way to learn a new skill, like making sushi and dumplings, homemade pasta and more. We also offer special caregiver classes for Baby Food 101 and Cooking for Toddlers.
What do you hope will be the end result of kids taking the classes?
My goal is that Taste Buds Kitchen offers buddings chefs of all ages a new and engaging experience that makes their week. I want everyone who walks through our door to feel welcomed and excited for our culinary adventure. We teach skills that you can apply to food and the kitchen for the rest of your life!
Tips for introducing kids to a great range of food?
Taste, taste, taste and then taste some more. Everyone’s taste buds change multiple times over the course of a lifetime so it’s never too late to try to introduce a new food. And of course, the more kids help to prepare something, the more they’ll want to try it. We like to use “I Tried Something New” stickers that work like a charm on the 2 and 3-year-olds.
What exciting classes are coming up in the Kitchen?
Our Fall Semester Classes are really amazing! We offer six weekly classes in our Chelsea Kitchen for children ages two to teen. Plus evening BYOB classes for adults.
Lastly, what are a few of your favourite local spots to eat out with your family?
Our favorite places of late are Spasso in the West Village, Cacio Peppe for their signature dish and S’Mac for their amazing Mac & Cheese. I keep a restaurant spreadsheet with over 300+ entries of all restaurants that I’ve tried with a special section for where I want to go next. Yum NYC!
Taste Buds Kitchen
109 West 27th Street, 10FL (btw 6th & 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!