PORTLAND, ORE. – July 7, 2021 – Families in Portland will be the next to experience one of the most exciting new concepts, Little Kitchen Academy (LKA), the first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen, endorsed by Iron Chef Cat Cora. Despite a pandemic, the two-year-old concept out of British Columbia has inked deals with multi-unit franchisees and area representatives to open more than 70 locations, including 33 in Oregon and Washington with business executive and philanthropist Michael Silver. The Portland location will be the company’s first franchise to open in the U.S. LKA will open its first U.S. location (corporate-owned) in Los Angeles in August, following franchise openings in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas in July. Little Kitchen Academy is committed to find like-minded franchisees and development partners to open 423 locations worldwide by the end of 2025.
The first Portland area Little Kitchen Academy is slated to open in one of Portland’s premier lifestyle centers with an expected opening date of winter 2021.
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. Upon learning about the concept, Iron Chef Cat Cora signed on as a global brand ambassador, advisor, and honorary head of recipe development.
“We are so excited to bring Little Kitchen Academy to more children in the Pacific Northwest, first in Portland and then across Oregon and Washington, because we see the impact we are having on our students, their families, and the community every day,” 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 and apply at home many of the practical life skills they’ve developed with us.”
Michael Silver signed on early to be the area representative for Oregon and Washington, two of just 11 U.S. states targeted to initially open the Canadian concept in the U.S. He will oversee 33 franchise locations. Silver is an accomplished business executive (owner and CEO of several companies, including Audio High, one of the leading home and corporate theater companies) and founder of two charitable foundations known as Silver Linings. For Michael, this is more than just an exciting business opportunity, as he has chosen to donate all proceeds from his Little Kitchen Academy operations to charity. Silver has training in business, music, and the culinary arts (trained at the Culinary Institute of America). Earlier in his career he worked as a software engineering manager and has managed projects and written code for corporate giants such as Apple, Google, AOL, CompuServe, General Electric, NASA, and others.
“It was easy to see how getting in early with Little Kitchen Academy to help the company find franchisees to bring 33 locations to Washington and Oregon could only help more local communities to flourish. Little Kitchen Academy’s mission is a nice fit with our mission at Silver Linings, where we fund programs that improve the lives of children. Besides teaching food exploration and meal creation, it is wonderful to see the development of decision-making skills and the resulting self-esteem, independence, and pride students gain from their efforts. We see this as such a wonderful business and opportunity to bring to children in the Pacific Northwest and through the Silver Linings Foundation,” said Michael Silver, CEO of Audio High and founder of Silver Linings.
“We could not be more delighted to have an amazing partner like Michael Silver joining us on our journey of changing lives from scratch by bringing the LKA experience to Oregon and Washington,” said Brian Curin, co-founder and CEO of Little Kitchen Academy. “We are proud of what we have developed and can’t wait to see it continue to impact more communities around the world as we find more great franchisees and development partners.”
“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. 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 33,00 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 and the second (and first franchise location) being Portland.
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, as well as Australia, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MENA region, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K.
The Signature Environment
The Portland Little Kitchen Academy will feature the brand’s signature innovative and modern design and include 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.
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. Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship venues are located in Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles, CA.