March 16, 2023
At the intersection of food, learning and fun is a Delaware County cooking school that welcomes kids into the kitchen for hands-on practice making dinners and desserts.
Chef Dad’s Table, run by Broomall resident Scott Noye, offers culinary classes, camps, parties and special events for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Registration is now open for the school's summer Cooking Camp, which runs from June through August.
"You can tell people how to do something and you can give them food so that they are able to eat but when you teach them a skill, you know, they can do it for themselves," Noye said.
Chef Dad's Table summer camp offers kids a curriculum covering teamwork, confidence building, community involvement, nutrition and, of course, culinary arts. Activities include outdoor play, arts and crafts, games, cooking contests, taste tests, theme days and recipe contests.
The Broomall-based camp runs all-day Monday through Thursday from June 19 through August 10, with sessions varying by age groups.
"Before (the campers) even get out of their cars in the morning, I hear them yelling, 'What do we make today?' They all seem to be so engaged in whatever it is that we're learning, or whatever skill we're talking about, or whatever cuisine or country we're researching and studying," Noye said.
Last year, the camp sold out all available spots, so interested participants are encouraged to sign up sooner rather than later.
While the summer camp, now approaching its third year, is a staple of the company's offerings, Chef Dad's Table instructors teach classes and hosts events year round.
Each week, Chef Dad's Table hosts cooking and baking classes for age groups 3 to 4, 5 to 10, and 11 through teens. Adult cooking classes are also offered in partnership with Main Line School Night, and Noye also teaches individual private lessons.
Noye and his team also host hands-on events and parties — with customized themes like Mexican fiesta, princess party or brownie bake-off — complete with matching snacks.
Along with cooking and baking skills, class and camp attendees learn about smart grocery shopping and the variety of careers available in the culinary arts.
"It's not just, 'Let's make cookies today,'" Noye said. "I mean, that would be fun, too, and we do do that. But there's a lot of other things involved."
In addition to camps, classes and events, a central aspect of Noye's work is giving back to the community.
Chef Dad's Table partners with the Wellness Community Center at Grace Lutheran Church and Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood to utilize spaces to host the company's programs. Students engage in service at these places as well, aiding with community gardens and volunteer programs at the Wellness Community Center.
Noye works with local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops as well as organizations that work with children and adults that have intellectual and physical disabilities. The team also collaborates with organizations working to combat food insecurity.
"Food security is a big problem," Noye said. "You know, if people know how to shop and how to cook, a lot of times that helps them in their financial environment. And we're hoping that we can help prevent food insecurity."
Originally from Boston, Noye has lived in the Philly region for more than two decades. He received a degree in Culinary Arts and Management from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, and has since worked in the retail, management and customer service areas of the food industry.
Like many people, Noye was forced to make a career pivot during the pandemic when he was let go from his jobs at a university and at a summer camp. Luckily, he was able to marry his passions for education and culinary arts to launch an endeavor that would benefit the region's youth.
"People thought that I was a little bit nuts, trying to start a new business in the middle of a pandemic," Noye said. "While everybody was closing and not being able to make it in, we had a slow start, but things are picking up. And at the end of the day, regardless of dollars and cents, it's very rewarding to know that you're providing the service to so many people."
After spending time assisting local families with virtual schooling as a pod instructor, Noye realized that an unintended consequence of pandemic-era distance learning was the removal of extracurriculars like physical education, art and music classes.
So, he worked some of these subjects, plus culinary arts, into his instruction, and found that the students really took to cooking and baking classes during which they unknowingly learned about other topics as well.
From there, Noye (a father of three himself) rented spaces and worked with nonprofits to launch Chef Dad's Table, developing cooking and baking classes for children that incorporate non-traditional lessons on the alphabet, math, science and history.
"When we're making different recipes and we're measuring things we're using math," Noye said. "And when we're reading recipes and writing recipes, we're using our language skills and our writing skills. And when we're doing different types of recipes and we're baking, often there's chemical reactions that are happening. And when we're learning about different cultures and cuisines, we're talking about geography and world culture. There was a lot of academics that was actually going on in our home classroom, but for the kids it was just pure fun to cook and eat."
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