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WESTFIELD, New Jersey- From the stovetop to the oven the young chefs here are bringing the heat and the heart to the kitchen. “[I love this place] because you get to cook and hang out with friends” Eliana, a young chef, said. They learn how to slice, season and sauté using fresh ingredients and authentic recipes. They’re transported to Tuscany the moment they step inside ‘Classic Thyme’ cooking school in Westfield, NJ. “When you start to allow them to create something and something they can then experiment with tasting and enjoy they get even more excited and they’re willing to try new things,” Chef David Martone explained. 

Chef David Martone started the school in 1995. He worked for years at an auto body shop and in the insurance industry before pursuing his real passion. “I actually went to culinary school on a whim,” he remembered. “I just went because I wanted to learn more about cooking, I always cooked at home with my family.” Now thousands of kids of all ages take part in after school programs, summer camps and so much more. “I get a great education in cooking,” Maddie, a student, explained. “Knife skills, new recipes and it gives you an idea of how to work with people.”

They also learn where their food comes from thanks to the garden out back. “We have brussels sprouts, we have some broccoli here, lots of different tomato varieties peppers,” Kathy Sherman, Farm-to-Table teacher, showed us. “We pick it when it’s ready and we take it into the classroom and cook with it.”

Most importantly, they’re taught how to do it carefully. “Do you still have to be safe even though it’s plastic? ” I asked Gabby, one of the young students. “Yes,” she replied. “Because there’s still sharp blades and they can still cut you.”