Sensory Exploration : an introduction to whole foods with the senses

Weekly classes that will provide your toddler with the opportunity to create a positive relationship and nurture healthy eating habits for years to come.

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“By offering your child the space to be creative, exploratory and independent around food, we also provide them the opportunity to cultivate bravery and excitement throughout their food journey.”

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This work allows your child to:

  • Feel empowered to make independent & healthy food choices.
  • Develop a natural respect for their environment and community.
  • Experience the unique opportunity to have their natural developmental skills nurtured in a caring and small group environment.

Sensory focused classes support your child at the stage of development that they are in.

Give your little one the chance to explore there colors, numbers and shapes through food.

Allow your child more practice in developmentally appropriate social situations that leave them more social adept and well rounded.

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Getting your kids involved in preparing their food and giving them exposure to healthy, whole foods straight away will eliminate “picky eater” issues down the line.

It’s important to create good habits young.

This toddler series is geared toward littles, age 2-4, who are just entering the world of food exploration.

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Did you know there is no better way to cook than with your senses?

Children have a natural need to explore and they learn best through sensory exploration.

  • Kids explore food with their senses
  • Learn about the various textures, colors and flavors of food
  • Explore different tools in the kitchen
  • Gain experience with the first level of knife skills

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Aside from the benefits of healthy eating, cooking is the ideal way to practice working as a team and the social skills that accompany that type of work.

 

While our classes focus on cooking, we provide a space for kids to navigate the everyday aspects of being a toddler. We just do it through food. 🙂

Social dynamics are a focus of what your child is naturally learning at this age. Our classes support healthy growth and provide opportunities for kids to practice the various social and team challenges that arise.

Give your child the opportunity to connect through food.

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Here’s how it works…

During each of our 45 minute classes food is our medium.

Your child will be in a class with 4-6 of their peers learning where their food comes from and how it is prepared. Food is our way to both connect your child with the group as a whole and to create connection and practice in the various areas of focus.

The main focus of each class is consistent exposure to new flavors and textures of whole foods. Through this main intention, each class presents itself with the opportunity for sensory exploration, art, movement, story, social dynamics and inquisition.

 

Class Flow

When your child arrives for class, they are greeted by on of our trained and experienced educators where they will find their personalized apron and cooking station at a table filled with fresh ingredients. (We also often throw in a new, less know ingredient for your child to explore.)

Your child will practice cooking specific skills, based on the recipe for each given week.

  • Knife skills and tool safety
  • Ingredient identification
  • Flavor identification

As your child becomes more experienced in class, they will grow a greater sense of calm and comfortability with their instructor and classmates. This sense of familiarity and safety is what will allow your child to build confidence in various skills and the bravery to try new flavors and ingredients.

We often find that after their first 2 months, children are in a place to really begin to stretch themselves in their exploration of new tasks and ingredients.

Communication

In our dedication to not only nurturing your child’s relationship with food, but supporting your whole family, we maintain consistent communication with you throughout your child’s time with us.

Within our virtual community you will receive weekly tips and videos to help you begin to cook at home with your child. The will be coming home ready to practice their new skills and we want to make sure YOU’RE ready as well.

Our educators will also be touching base every four weeks with updates on the skills your child is practicing and how you can best support them on your time.

We encourage all of our families to reach out to us on our virtual community board, via email or in person at your weekly class with any questions and support you may be needing.

Solstice Celebrations

You and your child will have the special opportunity to join us for our bi-annual Solstice Celebrations where we will celebrate your child’s progress in class and further nurture our community.

During a Solstice Celebration, your kiddo will get to meet children from the other weekly classes and partake in fun activities together.

They will also be showcasing their skills by cooking for you and the other families. This show of skill promotes confidence and builds community.

But the celebration is not only for them, with each solstice celebration we practice a mindfulness tool and offer something to our earth or community as well. This practice allows your child to nurture their connection to something outside of themselves and promotes empathy.

Let’s also not forget the individual recognition that you child will receive alongside other students. Children take SUCH pride in their work and being recognized for a particular aspect of their work is one of their favorite parts of this celebration.


The Connected Chef does not finalize our menu until we have all participants food allergies and sensitivities. This ensures that all friends are able to enjoy the class.

Some of the items that we have cook in the past are:

  • Marinades
  • Spice Rubs
  • Sushi Rolls
  • Veggie Fritters

With each of the items we cook together your child will get the chance to see new, fresh ingredients and the discover the beautiful sights, smells sounds and flavors of these foods.

Your child is currently in the mists of creating positive food associations that will last them a lifetime.

Give your kiddos the experience of dirty hands, full bellies and smiling faces.

Get Started Today

We recommend that all families come for a Trial Class with us first to get a full idea of what our community is all about.

Schedule of Classes

Sunday @ 3:30pm

Location: ACD Playspace

31-24 38th St, Astoria, NY 11103

After registering online, you will receive a welcome email and some paperwork to complete before the start of your class. This paperwork will ensure that we have all the food allergy and specific information about your child’s needs.

Once you come for your trial class and love it – we will get you all set with the membership option that suits your family best.

Join a Trial Class Today!

 

Membership Options

At The Connected Chef we strongly believe that our work with your children is about exposing them to whole foods and positive food experiences on a regular basis AND supporting YOU to make the adjustments you’d like around food, cooking and connecting with your children.

For this reason, our membership options provide support for your child AND you. While a regular cooking class is great – we are dedicated to supporting your family in bringing this work home with you as well. That won’t happen alone.

 

Basic Family Membership – $140/month

Kids get:

  • Once weekly classes – Kids get consistent exposure to whole foods and relative developmental skills, which creates a strong and lasting foundation for healthy eating and independent choices.
  • Connected Chef Apron & Digital Recipe Book.
  • Participation in our quarterly Student Celebration where the kids get to show off their skills and cook for their grown ups!

Parents get support here as well!

  • Access to our new private Membership Only Community where parents get updates on the activities and progress of their kiddos as well as tips and support for themselves around cooking.

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About Us

Kim Calichio, Founder

Kim as a mom

To Kim and the rest of The Connected Chef team, Food is the means by which we develop a more compassionate, connected society.

Before moving on to become a professional chef for top NYC restaurants, Kim studied at SUNY Stony Brook in research psychology. With The Connected Chef, Kim gets to combine her experiences and her passions by supporting families to use food as a medium to connect on a deeper level.

Through kids cooking & gardening classes, adult cooking classes and private, hand-tailored offerings – The Connected Chef gives you and your family a joyful way to connect with each other and the environment through food.

Tracy Serdjenian, Educator

Tray Serdjenian

With a Masters in Social Work, Tracy has an extensive background in child welfare and advocacy work. She is also local to Astoria and continues to be a dedicated member of our community in the work that she does. Tracy brings a sweet and calm energy to our class and is just in love with all the kids she works with. Her passion for community and nature/food leads her sweet & calm energy in class. She is just in love with all the kids she works with and loves & embraces the controlled chaos that is a kids’ cooking class.

Providing your child with the access to whole foods and cooking will allow them to build a lifelong relationship with food and nature. This experience will deepen their relationship with themselves, their community and you. You don’t have to do it alone

If you’re looking for guidance around how to support your child in nurturing their relationship with food, then this is the space for you.

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Some questions you might be wondering…

Do I stay with my child or drop her off?

Parents are encouraged to leave, but if your child is between 2-3 we understand that this may be a new transition.

If you decide staying within the class is best, we ask that you are fully engaged in the tasks and activities.

What do I need to do to make this happen?

Once you register and pay, I’ll send you 3 forms — allergy, medical release, and photo release. Your registration is then complete and you’ll receive a welcome packet with details of the class.

One week before class begins, you’ll receive an email with the curriculum & menu.

My kid has food allergies — do you accommodate that?

Yes. As soon as you’re registered, you’ll receive an allergy form. I review all forms with a fine-tooth comb to learn about foods I may need to avoid when selecting recipes.

What if we miss a session?

A make-up session is included. You may jin us during any of our other class times during the week.

Is there a price break if I enroll both/all of my children?

Yes, we offer an 8% sibling discount when you register … just use the code SIBLING and you’ll be all set.