An Ann Arbor resident since 1993, Lilian Anderson has spent her whole life cooking. “I’ve worked at Zingerman’s Deli and the original Whole Foods in their kitchen, back when they were in the space Trader Joe’s is in now,” said Anderson. She’s also worked as a personal chef several Ann Arbor families and currently teaches University of Michigan students about to move off campus how to cook for themselves — perhaps more of survival technique than creating culinary masterpieces.
Now, with a lifetime of cooking experience under her belt— including a
master’s degree in nutrition from Wayne State — Anderson is launching her own business, Sprouting Chefs.
The inspiration, she said, came from trying to place her daughter in a summer camp —
an experience most parents can relate to.
“I’ve been at home with my three children for ten years, and my daughter really enjoys cooking. I wanted to find a summer camp that focuses on cooking, and I couldn’t really, because they are usually about baking,” said Anderson. “And I thought about it for about 15 minutes and went ‘Wait! This is what I do!’”
And so the roots of what would eventually become Sprouting Chefs took hold. After gauging interest in the community, Anderson started teaching classes out of her home kitchen last summer to groups of four children at a time.
This year, in order to accommodate the growing demand for her classes, she has rented the kitchen at Westminster Presbyterian Church and will teach up to ten children per class, with ages ranging from 8 to 16 (with some exceptions, based on techniques that may not be suitable to kids under the age of ten). Each class has a different theme, and together with a volunteer adult, her goal is to get kids invested in what they put into their bodies.
More important than demanding kids eat healthy (which she says can turn them off right away from cooking), Anderson introduces new
techniques and flavors, motivating kids to continue cooking at home, frequently a healthier option than eating out. She also emphasizes using locally-grown and organic products, and will incorporate the use of a garden site in her classes.
“Cooking from scratch equates to healthy eating. My focus is on introducing them to new flavors,” said Anderson. “I use butter, I fry things. I don’t eliminate any foods, but everything is in moderation. There’s just so many benefits to cooking at home.”
Classes start March 12 and run Saturdays through the May 14,
with summer classes bi-weekly thereafter.
Classes are $45.
For more information, and to register, visit sproutingchefs.org.