Little Kitchen Academy (LKA), the first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen, today announced it has signed a deal with a new franchise partner in Toronto, Ontario, to open the company’s fifth location in the Greater Toronto Area. LKA has gained significant traction since opening its flagship location in Vancouver just two years ago. The company now has three locations open across Canada, with more opening later in 2021, and will open its first U.S. location in Los Angeles this August on its path to 423 locations worldwide by 2025.
The nearly pandemic-proof concept was founded by Montessori-trained culinary innovator Felicity Curin; her husband, serial entrepreneur, and proven global brand and franchise expert, Brian Curin (Cold Stone Creamery, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Flip Flop Shops) 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 and develop practical life skills for independent thinking.
The new location in Toronto’s historic and vibrant High Park area will be opened by Linsay and Blake Moran. Blake is Canadian legal counsel at one of North America’s largest food distribution companies and Linsay is the co-founder of the virtual gifting platform Unwrapit. “When we heard about Little Kitchen Academy, we knew it was the right opportunity for us,” said Linsay. “I feel so fortunate to have had a culinary confidence instilled in me at a young age and am so excited to share that with my children and with every student who comes into Little Kitchen Academy. We’re looking forward to seeing our students learning new skills and growing their confidence and independence at our Little Kitchen Academy in High Park.”
“We are delighted to have Linsay and Blake as our newest franchise partners and are excited they will soon be sharing Little Kitchen Academy with their community,” said Brian Curin, CEO and co-founder of Little Kitchen Academy. “As soon as we met them, we knew they were the right people to bring this concept to the High Park area. We feel so grateful to continue finding new like-minded franchise partners who are passionate about empowering children with practical life skills and knowledge.”
LKA Official Brand Ambassador and Honorary Head of Recipe Development Iron Chef Cat Cora is excited that more children will be learning practical life skills in Toronto. “When I first met Brian and Felicity and learned about Little Kitchen Academy, 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 Cora. “As a mother, I 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 is aligned with LKA at: https://youtu.be/b-zR6Lcltxs)
LKA Founder, President, and COO Felicity Curin is excited to share the concept with more families in Toronto, because she sees the impact it has on students. “Little Kitchen Academy is the key ingredient for an independent child,” said Felicity. “We see the independence in our students growing every day. It starts from the moment our students walk in the door when an instructor hands them their chef’s coat and demonstrates how to do up the first button, then encourages the child to do the rest. We’ve seen some interesting ways of buttoning a chef coat and buttons are frequently missed, but it’s about the effort, not the result. Then once our students are in class, they continue to build their independence with every task they do, whether that’s learning how to use a knife, making a decision about what substitutions they might like to make to that day’s recipe, or taking responsibility for sanitizing their station and washing their dishes. Seeing their independence and empowerment grow is truly inspiring.”
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, and Spring breaks. In each class 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 the LKA community table (made with more than 33,000 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, which she introduced into the U.S. market. 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. Three locations in Canada are now open: LKA Point Grey and LKA South Surrey in Greater Vancouver, B.C., and LKA Oakville in Greater Toronto, Ont. At least five more new locations will open in 2021 with the first U.S. location in Los Angeles and the second (and first U.S. franchise location) in Portland.
Little Kitchen Academy is currently seeking like-minded multi-unit franchisees and development partners based exclusively in Ariz., Calif., Colo., Fla., Ill., Miss., N.C., Ore., Texas, Wash., and Wisc. Internationally, LKA is focused on expanding further into Canada in Alb., select markets in B.C., and Ont., as well as Australia, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MENA region, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K.
The Signature Environment
Every Little Kitchen Academy 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.
About Little Kitchen Academy
Little Kitchen Academy (LKA) is the key ingredient for an independent child. The first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen is 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 effect 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, KitchenAid Canada, and Goemans. Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship venues are located in Vancouver, B.C. and Los Angeles, Calif.