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Meet Claire Berger of Claire’s Cooking Club in Toluca Lake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Berger.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Claire. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
What does one do after a twenty-five-year career in comedy? I took a job hanging out with 200 people under five years old. I became a preschool administrator and came to realize that of all my jobs, from working on “Seinfeld,” hosting a series on HGTV and creating productive humor for corporate America, working with children made me laugh the hardest and taught me to appreciate the power of play. And through every chapter of my life, I cooked. I cooked for my family, for special events, in a gourmet dinner club and for myself. Cooking became my passionate mode of communication, an expression of love and an opportunity to connect people. In my new role at the preschool, it seemed only natural that I teach children to cook. I founded Claire’s Cooking Club to introduce children as young as three to basic culinary skills, to healthy delicious foods and the role science, math and art play in every recipe we prepare. Over the past five years, I’ve cooked with over two hundred children and I’ve learned something new from every one of them. Their innocent, enthusiastic approach to every dish reminds me why I love cooking so very much.

Has it been a smooth road?
At the age of fifty, I experienced a dramatic reinvention, both personally and professionally. My 30-year marriage ended, my kids left for college and I left the entertainment industry for something more stable. Embarking on a new career mid-life was filled with humbling obstacles. Much to my surprise, a career in comedy was not perceived as a marketable launch pad into a new career. After a long, challenging job search, I landed an outrageously different yet deeply fulfilling next career as a preschool administrator. No one was more surprised than me when I was offered the job.

After several years of working at the school, I began cooking for school functions and was offered the chance to teach an enrichment cooking class. From that first class, Claire’s Cooking Club was conceived. My mission was simple: Little Chefs. Big Fun.

Please tell us about Claire’s Cooking Club.
Claire’s Cooking Club is created for young chefs and their families; truly anyone looking for inspiring ways to introduce young children to healthy, delicious food. Classes are offered in preschools, private homes, and community centers. Classes for children and parent/child classes are available. Private parties and cooking lessons for children are also offered.

Cooking is an ideal example of play-based learning for children and a creative teaching and development tool for children as young as three. We prove this every week in Claire’s Cooking Club.

Hands-on cooking activities help young children develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. Social-Emotional development is super-charged during Cooking Club. When I cook with children, I encourage self-direction and independence, using thinking skills to problem solve and prepare something yummy.

Watch a child chop crisp lettuce, squeeze a juicy lemon, measure pasta or mix a big batch of cookie dough and you’ll see firsthand the cooking skills that help develop a child’s small muscle control and hand-eye coordination.

Cooking inspires children’s innate curiosity, thinking, and problem-solving, offering delicious opportunities to make choices and observations. When children organize ingredients, follow a sequence and share with their friends, deep growth and self-confidence happens, not just in the kitchen, in every aspect of their life.

Claire’s Cooking Club is a great opportunity for language development. Grocery shopping may be a chore for grown-ups but children see it as a treasure hunt, an opportunity filled with new discoveries. Ask a child to explain how something tastes, how it feels, how it smells. You’ll love their honest responses!

In every class, I serve up yummy food, creative conversations, and activities guaranteed to entertain and inspire everyone to fall in love with cooking.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Claire’s Cooking Club is based in Toluca Lake but I’m happy to travel when and where schedules permit. Private classes and parties have taken me from the east valley to Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Manhattan Beach and Thousand Oaks, just to name a few locales.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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