Kearney Culinary Academy, located in historic downtown Kearney, Missouri, hosts cooking classes for children and adults alike.
Chef and class coordinator Ashley Foy-Price said the classes at KCA are often themed and typically last two-and-a-half to three hours. She said the classes for kids are her favorite.
“They’re so fun. Each one is different,” Foy-Price said. “One of my favorites is a pasta and pizza party. We make pasta dough from scratch and I make them do it by hand on the table so it’s messy and it’s hilarious. It’s incredible to watch them.”
As someone who struggles with autoimmune issues herself, Foy-Price said she is passionate about helping others learn how to cook to better their lives and health. She said she knows how overwhelming it can be to change your diet.
“We’re trying to make it less overwhelming and less intimidating, like this is how you can change just a couple little things to better your diet and this is how you do it, so that’s mainly what the whole series is about – saying it’s not that hard if you just make a couple changes here and there,” Foy-Price said.
The cost of each class depends on the ingredients needed, but ranges from $45 to $55. KCA offers children’s birthday party packages and team-building packages. At KCA, it’s about much more than food – it’s about genuine conversations and community enrichment.
“It’s neat, I’ll sit back and just watch Ashley and she actually sits down and breaks the bread with the people and talks,” said Amanda Harris, general manager of the Old Church Plaza in Kearney. “‘What’s going on with life? What do you like to see?’ And so it’s not just ‘Ok, it’s done.’ – It’s sitting down and talking with them.”
Foy-Price said the French macarons class for kids is always a hit.
“Some of the boys have taken a bunch of classes. They’re really sweet. Their mom just sent me a picture that they made the macarons at home- they did so good,” Foy-Price said. “I love it.”
The academy also boasts The Market, a shop filled with home-baked goods cooked by chefs in the Production Kitchen. The Market’s menu changes often, but shoppers can always find sweet treats from Pastry Chef Claire Nichols and fresh bread from Joanna Bayer, the bread baker.
Harris said The Market has a variety of food, microwavable meals for those on the go and take and bake options to enjoy at home.
“We’re always looking for new ideas and we’re always looking for comments from the public,” Harris said. The KCA chefs are currently in the process of creating tasty food options for those who have dietary restrictions. Aside from the classes and to-go cuisine, KCA also offers a full-scale catering service for any special event including weddings.
In addition, KCA spends time investing in the surrounding community by giving students from nearby high schools the chance to be interns. Student interns spend 14 hours a week at KCA honing their skills and learning from experienced chefs, learning basic knife safety and sanitation before moving on to work in different areas of the kitchen. Interns also learn about catering and even get to spend time at The Reserve on Jefferson with Executive Chef Sean Price.
“Our intern this year, her name is Chuck, gets an aspect of the whole facility which is very cool because we do so much in this building,” Foy-Price said. “She’ll go work with Sean some days over at The Reserve, she’ll work with Kyle in this Production Kitchen, she’ll work with Claire, our pastry chef, so she’ll just bounce around and then we’ll record the hours in a log book so we know she’s getting the right amount of hours that she needs in each department.”
KCA also offers “Bulldog Bucks” for the 2018-2019 school year, ten percent of purchases made with a Bulldog Bucks card at Kearney Culinary Academy, The Reserve on Jefferson, or Piece by Piece Furniture & More go to the Kearney School District of choice.
“It’s been really neat to see people interested in the classes and be appreciative that we are trying to bring something really cool to this town and create a place for community to gather is kind of what we’re going for,” Foy-Price said. “We want it to be the spot – the whole Old Church Plaza. When you come here, that’s what you get, you get experience, skills, plus creativity. And just delicious food because that’s what we’re all about.”
Photos by Denise Elam & Rivet