If you have a budding baker or two at your house itching to learn more about breads and pastries, now they have a chance. In April, started a new program designed for foodie children.
Involving 16 café locations in the area, the B.I.T. (Bakers In Training) Kids program brings children ages 5 to 12 behind the scenes, showing them how a bakery works and letting them participate in kitchen activities. While no locations in Clayton or Richmond Heights are participating, there are numerous opportunities in the St. Louis area:
- 2018 S. 7th St. (Soulard in St. Louis City)
- 6607 Chippewa St. (Saint Louis Hills in St. Louis City)
- 1008 Loughborough Ave. (St. Louis City)
- 10312 Manchester St. (Greentree Center in Kirkwood)
- 147 Westport Plaza (Maryland Heights)
- 17132 Chesterfield Airport Rd. (Chesterfield)
- 2375 N. Highway 67 (Florissant)
- 5696 Telegraph Rd. (Oakville)
- 1075 W. Gannon Dr. (Festus)
- 14560 Manchester Rd. (Winchester)
- 880 Washington Corners (Washington, MO)
- 2079 Zumbehl Rd. (Bogey Hills Plaza in St. Charles)
- 6185 Mid Rivers Mall Dr. (St. Peters)
- 861 Robert Raymond Dr. (Lake Saint Louis)
- 5917 N. Illinois St. (Fairview Heights, IL)
- 3120 Green Mount Crossing Rd. (Green Mount Crossing in O'Fallon, IL)
Cooking up connections
The idea behind the B.I.T. Kids classes is "to share our story and also build a deeper connection with our customers," local marketing manager Kelli Nicholson said.
The program is a fun and family friendly opportunity to teach "even our littlest bakers" the benefits of fresh ingredients, she said.
Bakery-café managers teach the classes. During a typical class, Nicholson said, young bakers receive a baking hat, apron and coloring pages. They also get to score the dough of a mini French baguette, which the professionals at the café then bake. The kids tour the bakery-café, where they learn important information about safety and sanitation and see employees in action.
They also learn the importance of helping others, Nicholson said, as managers share information about the company's donations of leftover bakery items to nonprofit organizations.
Lessons to go
At the end of the class, students get to bring home their bread, hats and aprons, along with a recipe card to to use at home. Parents are encouraged to take an active role in the class, though it is mainly geared toward the little ones.
"We have a lot of parents who ask questions during the class and actually end up learning a lot as well," Nicholson said.
The classes require a minimum of 10 children to a group, meaning they are ideal for scout groups, home school groups or a gaggle of friends. The cost is $5 a child. That makes the classes "a great low-cost summer activity for kids and parents," Nicholson said.
Classes will be offered year-round, with upcoming seasonal twists such as Halloween and Christmas cookie decorating. Call or visit the Panera Bread website to make a group reservation.
Other cooking classes for kids
- in Richmond Heights also offers cooking classes for young people. Check out its list of offerings and learn how to register online.