In the News
Chefs March 6, 2020
Local Chef Serves Up Cooking Classes
For Adults and Children With Special Needs
Chef Katy Schweikert has quite the culinary pedigree -- including being a master chocolatier. (Naturally, she learned from the best -- with an eight-year stint under the watchful eye of Christopher Elbow.)
After working her way up the ranks and for several well-known chefs (including Top Chef's Joe Flamm), Schweikert has returned home and shifted gears a bit. She's found a niche teaching a myriad of ingenious cooking classes.
If you're a newbie, never fear. Schweikert says everybody has to start somewhere. "Family night dinners, Sunday dinners -- I want to bring memories back to the kitchen. The Food Network has made cooking glamorous, but sometimes out of reach with the average cook," she says. "So I teach people who can't boil water to learn pastry skills and/or whip up five-course meals to enjoy." The goal? 1) Be creative and 2) make it comfortable for those who might be intimidated in the kitchen.
One of Schweikert’s most popular What’s Cookin’ classes, however, is something that’s near and dear to her heart. “I teach children and adults with special needs how to cook. No one seems to think that’s possible, but I see it differently,” she adds. “They just need patience and a different way of communicating for them to understand what to do.”
Schweikert not only has a brother who is autistic, but she’s also coached Blue Valley Special Olympics for over eight years. She sees her role as a chef as just another outlet for special needs kids to learn fun, yet necessary cooking skills. “They have such big hearts and are so eager to learn everything you can teach them,” she says. “I always want my brother to have a place to work. So if my business grows, I can hire special needs to help me prep and clean.”
Class sizes are typically intimate and hands-on—which affords plenty of time for Schweikert to break things down. “It’s a comfortable setting to laugh and learn,” she says. “I want people—parents, kids—to leave with a smile and to talk about how much fun they had and what they learned. Plus, talk about a win-win! They can take those skills and teach their children, grandchildren, or friends.”