Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach introduces the Youth Culinary Academy

Starting on Feb. 24, The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Center for a Healthy Lifestyle will present the new Youth Culinary Academy, a culinary school for kids. The Youth Culinary Academy (YCA) aims to provide realistic, innovative and entertaining culinary school training for youth ages 12 and under at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach.

With a skills-based and hands on approach to learning, YCA students will learn traditional cooking techniques, theories, history and practice, in a working kitchen, with chef teachers. The program has a strong emphasis of “garden to table” and will also incorporate freshly harvested produce from the working organic garden at the Center. Some classes will also feature a gardening portion to learn growing techniques, theory and practice. Chef students will walk away from these classes with a working knowledge of culinary techniques and the foundation for being chefs their entire lives.

“We are incredibly excited for this school in our community, for there’s nothing like it out there,” stated Amanda Mascia, children’s cooking instructor at the Center. Inspiration hit when she was teaching one day: “These kids could easily go to culinary school!” she thought, and the idea for the Youth Culinary Academy was born: a program where youth have the opportunity to learn step-by-step methods for being a master chef. “However, there is only one rule,” Mascia claims, “The only thing we take seriously is the food.”

Each course is designed to advance each individual student’s skills, while exploring a new type of cuisine. Students can both advance through the levels, as well as experience different cuisines through different courses and level offerings. Each course will offer graduation to the next level through a test of learnings at the last class. There are currently three levels to the Youth Culinary Academy and in each level focus will be on: knife skills, kitchen tools, safety, cooking techniques, ingredients, history, terminology, nutrition, and traditional recipes.

In addition to the YCA, a six-week gardening class will also be available. In this course, students will have hands-on instruction concentrating on the science of the composting life cycle. This will include the creation and maintenance of both compost bins and worm bins. Students will record their observations, create their own diagrams, learn the history and growth patterns of five different culinary herbs, and have the opportunity to both plant and harvest the herbs.

The Youth Culinary Academy will be taught by chef Amanda Mascia. Chef Amanda has been teaching children how to cook at The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle for over four years with after school classes, field trips, assemblies, birthday parties, and cooking camps, and through her Emmy Award-winning television show, The Good Food Factory.

If interested in learning more about the Youth Culinary Academy, please visit or call (858) 436-7502.