LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – June 17, 2021 – Today, Little Kitchen Academy (LKA), the first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen, announced it will open its first U.S. location in Los Angeles on August 16th at the Westfield Century City open-air shopping center. The quickly growing concept was founded by Montessori-trained culinary innovator Felicity Curin; her husband, proven global brand and franchise expert and serial entrepreneur Brian Curin; and social impact investor and entrepreneur, Praveen Varshney to provide a safe, inspiring, and empowering space for children to identify, develop, and refine their senses. LKA Century City will be the fourth location to open, with the first two franchise locations opening this July in Canada. This opening represents the next step in the brand’s journey to open 423 locations worldwide by the end of 2025.
“Changing lives from scratch isn’t just a tagline. We see the impact we are having on our students, their families, and the community everyday” said Felicity Curin, founder, president, and COO of Little Kitchen Academy. “When children enter our kitchen and put on their chef coat, they stand a little bit taller. We see them transform in front of our eyes! It’s so inspiring to watch the overwhelming joy and pride our students feel at the end of class, when their parents or caregivers come to pick them up and they get to show off the meal they made from scratch!”
California is a key market for the company’s growth, which is why Little Kitchen Academy decided to open its first U.S. location in Los Angeles at one of the city’s most iconic destinations. “Opening our first US location in Los Angeles is exciting for us because it is an important market for our strategic expansion plans, but also because it has been like a second home to me for many years,” said Brian Curin, CEO and co-founder. “I am delighted that we can share the gift of Little Kitchen Academy with a community that means so much to us. We can’t wait to start changing lives from scratch in LA!” This location, LKA’s U.S. flagship, is also familiar territory for the brand’s official ambassador and key advisor, Celebrity Chef Cat Cora, who lives in Southern California.
“Little Kitchen Academy is so important to me. When I first met Brian and Felicity and learned about the concept, I immediately knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. When I experienced a class and saw how empowered and independent the students were in the kitchen in response to the caring Montessori-inspired approach, I was certain that we had to share this incredible gift with as many children as possible,” said Cat Cora. “As a mother, I was drawn to and am completely aligned with the unique curriculum and food philosophy. There’s never been a time when a program like this was more needed than now.” Cora has served as a key advisor to the company since opening its doors in June 2019. (Hear why Cora wanted to be a part of changing lives from scratch with LKA at: https://youtu.be/b-zR6Lcltxs)
Seasonal Sessions Year-round
Seasonal sessions run year-round and are organized by age group (ages 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and 13+ years old). Students experience a three-hour class once a week during the school year or over five consecutive days during Summer, Winter & Spring breaks. Each week, students learn how to make healthy, delicious, and seasonal meals from scratch to consumption—all while experimenting with math and science concepts, working on their reading skills, and polishing up their table manners by sharing meals around our community table (made with 33,436 recycled chopsticks). Sessions are limited to just 10 students and are overseen by three instructors. The curriculum focuses on seasonal, locally grown, and organic produce and ingredients, and students enjoy the fruits of their labor for a “scratch to consumption” experience at the end of each lesson. All students are welcome in this fully inclusive program, including those with learning or other disabilities. The program, which is nut, meat, poultry, and seafood free, also can accommodate those with gluten, dairy, or other allergies.
The Montessori Approach
LKA’s Montessori-inspired environment is organized to support the growth and development of each child. Instructors show the students how to safely use tools, but step back to closely observe the independent work, only stepping in when deemed appropriate. This approach enables students to learn at their own pace while they acquire practical life skills that foster independence, confidence, and socialization. LKA further empowers students to make better food choices, to apply age-appropriate math and science skills in real-world settings, and embrace practices such as recycling, composting, and the concept of philanthropy in order to make positive, socially conscious contributions to the world through its recently announced global philanthropic initiative “How Can I Help,” which empowers students to learn about giving back and making a difference by putting the choice in their hands to support one of three notable causes. Learn more about LKA’s innovative philanthropic program: https://littlekitchenacademy.com/how-can-i-help/
The Inspiration and Trajectory
LKA is the brain trust of Founder Felicity Curin, a mother of three, who combined three of her life-long passions: cooking, education, and children. She is a trained chef who began her career at Earls Restaurants, a Canadian-based upscale eatery chain. She also is the daughter of the founding headmaster of the prestigious West Point Grey Academy and took her natural ability to teach and love for children to the classroom by getting her (AMI) Association Montessori Internationale teaching degree. The idea for Little Kitchen Academy was born in 2018 and Felicity opened her first location in June 2019. Her husband and co-founder, Brian Curin, quickly developed the brand and franchise model, secured the company’s early investors and advisors, and set out to secure global partners and the first multi-unit franchisees and development partners. Two locations in Canada are opening this July: LKA South Surrey (Greater Vancouver, BC) on July 12th and LKA Oakville (Greater Toronto, ON) on July 17th. At least six new locations will open in 2021 with the first U.S. location being Los Angeles.
Little Kitchen Academy is currently seeking like-minded multi-unit franchisees and development partners based exclusively in AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MS, NC, OR, TX, WA, and WI. Internationally, LKA is focused on expanding further into Canada in AB, select markets in BC, and ON in Canada, as well as Australia, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MENA region, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K.
The Signature Environment
Little Kitchen Academy Century City features the brand’s signature innovative and modern design and includes 10 individual cooking stations (a.k.a. Little Kitchens); a handwashing station; a living food wall powered by AeroGarden for students to grow and harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs for use in their creations; the LKA Community Table made by ChopValue from more than 33,000 recycled chopsticks; a stocked pantry and refrigeration system for the children to gather their ingredients; laundry facilities for the little chef coats; an educational recycling and composting area; and restrooms. Each of the 10 individual cooking stations includes an oven, induction cooktop, sink, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, prep table, mixer, and all the equipment and utensils needed to make the “from scratch” creations including vegetable peelers, rolling pins, measuring spoons, and colanders, which are meticulously kept, cleaned, and commercially sanitized between each class.
Little Kitchen Academy Century City will be located at the iconic Westfield Century City. “At Westfield, we strive to continually offer unique, experiential, and interactive opportunities for our guests to enjoy. When we heard about Little Kitchen Academy’s expansion plans into California, we worked hard along with Location3, LKA’s global real estate partner, to secure the concept at one of our flagship shopping centers, Westfield Century City,” said Kurt Utterback, vice president of leasing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “We have never seen anything like this concept or the way it is being executed. It is very special, and we see great opportunity for it to flourish in any market, especially here in Southern California.”
Registration for the LA sessions is now open as parents and children are eager to safely engage in summer and year-round enrichment programs again. LKA has implemented and will continue a number of safety protocols in adherence with local COVID-19 guidelines. Registration is available on the company’s website. Prices vary based on the number of classes per session. A 4-class session (3 hours per class) will be $480 and weeklong sessions (five 3-hour classes over one week) will be $600.
About Little Kitchen Academy
Little Kitchen Academy (LKA) is the first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen, focused on providing a safe, inspiring, and empowering space for children to identify, develop and refine their senses. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the concept was co-founded by proven global brand and franchise expert and serial entrepreneur Brian Curin, his wife, Montessori-trained, culinary expert, and visionary Felicity Curin, and social impact investor and entrepreneur Praveen Varshney, on the belief that by empowering children with practical life skills and knowledge in a positive and joyful environment, they and their company will affect positive lifestyle changes that result in a healthier world. True to its mission, LKA lives to create a more educated, able and healthy society through mindful, healthy eating choices, and is committed to changing lives, from scratch to consumption. Part of that mission includes empowering students to learn how they can make the world a better place through How Can I Help by Little Kitchen Academy, LKA’s signature philanthropic program, supporting Chefs for Humanity, The Global FoodBanking Network, Kids Help Phone, and PHIT America. In addition to charitable partnerships, LKA has forged strategic global brand partnerships with Iron Chef Cat Cora, AeroGarden, BIRKENSTOCK, ChefWorks, Emeco, ChopValue, Welcome Industries, Location3, and PRISE Inc. Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship venues are located in Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles, CA.