Fresno Friday-Young Chefs Academy

Chef Shayna of Young Chefs Academy of Fresno invited Emily to her Kinder Cooks Class this week.  Emily was so excited to be invited and she had the best time.  I accompanied Emily but it was a kids only class so I joined the other parents and watched from their viewing window.  I was so impressed with the hour long class hosted by Chef Shayna.  I was expecting a cooking class but I wasn't expecting a full learning experience.  Chef Shayna incorporated counting, letters, manners, and much more.  The class began with talking about the recipe for the week which was Blueberry Scones.  Then each child got to help put the ingredients in the bowl and stir.  During this process they learned about measuring cups and spoons and how to count and add ingredients.  Chef Shayna was wonderful with interacting with the young children and keeping them in line in the kindest and calmest manner.  I do have to say it was a very well behaved group of girls; there were 7 girls in the class ages 3 and 4 years old.
While their scones were baking Chef Shayna read a story that was relevant to the week.  The girls also got up and played a little game.  Once they were done baking, warm scones were served, the magic words were uttered, "Bon Appetit," and the girls got to try their creations.  Of course Emily finished every last bite of her scone.
I can't say enough good things about the Young Chefs Academy and Chef Shayna.  It was such a great experience and we were so lucky to be invited.  
A brief background on Young Chefs Academy: It was established in 2003 with the hope of encouraging discovery and creativity in the kitchen.  Food prep is their primary focus but they also include kitchen safety, etiquette, table setting, menu planning, and laughter.  YCA offers classes, birthday parties, camps, field trips, and more.  You can attend one class, purchase 4 packs, or become a member for the most benefits and cost savings. 
This is a gem in Fresno so please check into their classes, events, camps, and parties.

Follow YCA on Facebook and Twitter.  Follow Fresno YCA and Chef Shayna on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Please tell us a little bit about your company and how you got started:
I took over YCA 5 years ago this past June. My passion for nutrition and working with kids is ultimately what led me to the business. My goal is to teach families the joy and value of cooking by taking the fear & mystery out of the process and including kids in the kitchen. Our programs focus on teaching kids but I have also expanded the business to include adult classes, workshops, & events. I make a point to "give back" to the community and teach classes for various organizations like Marjaree Mason & Valley Children's Hospital as well as volunteer with the Junior League of Fresno.

What has been your greatest lesson in running your own business?
You have to be flexible and have A LOT of patience.

What’s your greatest tip for entrepreneurs?
You have to be willing to work hard, get your hands dirty in all aspects of your business, and put in a lot of hours & persistence. The first 3 years in business, I worked around the clock, attended every event that I could and would come home sore and physically & mentally exhausted but I think ultimately the hard work has paid off. Now, that I have a family, I am trying to create a better balance.

What does your normal day look like?
Ha! Normal day?!… hmmm. Well no 2 days are alike but I can tell you I make frequent trips to the grocery store. My baby wakes me somewhere around 5 am and I try to snooze for a few more hours- I am not a morning person. I try to focus on quality time with my daughters in the morning and squeeze in an hour of exercise 4-5 days a week. Then when at work, I spend time juggling business management such as checking messages, setting up events, and social media marketing (which I am slowly starting to delegate to staff). That is another lesson- learning to let go. I am also responsible for menu planning for my classes and events, I will teach a class or work a special event and usually clean up and rush home to feed my 4 month old. I make a point to have family dinner and spend time together before the girls' bed time. When everyone is in bed, I will get computer work or planning done and finally hit the sack around 12:00am. It doesn't sound like much, when reading it but it is an action packed day/week.

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration in a lot of people and things I see. I especially love to see people that are pursuing their passions and truly experiencing life.
I also have to say my parents. My Dad was a great businessman, he was able to connect with anyone, anywhere. We could be traveling in Europe and would run into someone he knew. He also was great a remaining calm and bringing levity to stressful situations.
My mom has taught me to work hard and keep going She has allowed me to march to my own drum and explore my passions in life.

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