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What happens when you combine the foodie passion of working with children along with business-savvy individuals?

You have the perfect recipe for one truly, fantastic Young Chefs Academy owner!

Over the next few months, several YCA locations will be popping up across the US, providing a nurturing hands-on environment for children (and adults) to learn valuable culinary skills that will last a lifetime, with the first to open this March.

It’s always exciting to watch the progression of each new owner as the YCA Corporate team walks with them from the day they sign their franchise agreement.  Their excitement and anticipation continue to grow from lease signing day as they head towards “the big day” ~ Grand Opening.  As the buildout progresses and the word begins to spread around town about the unique experience Young Chefs Academy provides, franchise owners are uplifted by this growing enthusiasm and support ~ which is only the beginning of what will become a strong relationship between Young Chefs Academy and the families and businesses in their communities for years to come.

But who are our franchise owners?

They typically come from a corporate background, aspiring for change and looking for the independence of business ownership.  But most importantly, they all have a passion for cooking (at any stage) and enjoy working within a family-friendly business venture.  They also want a strong support team to back them up every step of the way. 

With over 150 years of franchise experience, the entire Young Chefs Academy Corporate team works closely with each new franchise owner throughout the build-out/operations process, fine-tuning their local marketing strategy and mastering their ability through technological training.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The network of ongoing support and resources have been carefully constructed over the years with the mindset of continually providing a solid foundation on which franchisees can grow. 

The first upcoming Grand Opening event will be held at the Young Chefs Academy in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa, FL on March 9th.  Franchise owner/operator, Keera Reid, has been a prime advocate of the YCA brand who fully embraces the value of working within a proven franchise model and providing a valuable experience to the community.


“Young Chefs Academy is the perfect place to instill values and skills in our youth that last a lifetime,” states Reid.  “When working parents make meals without involving their children, it’s always a rush and an unenjoyable process.  We’re shifting this trend to make it a fun activity and a learning experience for children and parents alike.  We hop to share the joy and value our family has found in cooking with others in our community.”

If you happen to live near the Tampa areas, please help us to welcome Keera and her family on March 9, 2019 from 1 pm – 4pm in the Live Oak community at 20709 Center Oak Drive in Tampa by attending this FREE open house event.  Don’t live in the area?  Visit her on her Facebook page where she’s kept an ongoing log of her experience at https://www.facebook.com/YCAWesleyChapelNewTampaFL. 

Grand Opening event will be held at the Young Chefs Academy in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa, FL on March 9, 2019 from 1 pm – 4pm in the Live Oak community at 20709 Center Oak Drive in Tampa. 

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We always look forward to the big game every year regardless of who's playing.  We are among the millions gathered around the television to root for our favorite team...or commercial ; )  Yet for us at Young Chefs Academy, game day also means scoring points with all the hungry football fans at our house. 

Looking back at last year, we were drawn to the more traditional game fare with a twist...Miso Mushroom Sliders & 1st Down Chili Dog Sliders.  Our tastebuds start to tingle just thinking about those.

But this year, we decided to go in a different direction.  Three new options that offer a fresh alternative to the classic "fan favorites" that are equally, if not more, delicious than last year...BALT (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce & Tomato) Sandwiches with Sriracha Garlic Aioli, Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Slices, and Italian Bruschetta!  Each are easy to create but will unquestionably add the "WOW" factor for your guests.

Be sure to check out the "Tips & Tricks" section following the recipes!

So...what are you waiting for?  Suit up (in your apron) and let's get cookin'!!


  BALT (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches) with Sriracha Garlic Aioli  

Makes 4 servings


12 slices of thick bacon

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of salt

1 cup mayonnaise

Zest of 1 lemon

1-2 drops of Srirach sauce (or to taste)

1 large tomato, cut into at least 4 thick slices

4 butter lettuce leaves

One large avocado, cut in half, pitted and sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 slices hearty seeded bread, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Line sheet pans with foil or parchment paper.

  2. Lay bacon in single layer on the foil lined sheet pans.

  3. Bake for 12-17 minutes until crisp and browned.

  4. Using tongs, carefully remove from sheet pan and drain on double-folded paper towels.

  5. To make the aioli: Peel the garlic and smash it on the cutting board with the side of a knife.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and mince it until you have a paste.
  6. In a mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, sriracha and garlic paste. Whisk together to combine. Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use
  8. To assemble the sandwich: lay four pieces of the toasted bread on your cutting board. Divide the sliced avocado evenly among the four slices of bread. Add a bit of salt and pepper.
  9. Layer on the lettuce and tomato; season again with salt and pepper, to taste.
  10. Add 3 slices of bacon to each sandwich.
  11. Spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each of the remaining slices of bread and place on top of the sandwich.

  Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Slices      

Makes 30 appetizers


¾ lb cooked small shrimp, patted dry with paper towel and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, diced small

1 tablespoon red onion, minced

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sour cream

½ teaspoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon garlic chili sauce, optional

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch black pepper

1 large English cucumber, ¼ inch slices

2 tablespoons minced chives


  1. Combine the shrimp, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, garlic chili sauce, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
  2. Arrange the cucumber slices on a serving platter and top each one with a tablespoon of shrimp salad. Garnish with chives.

  Italian Bruschetta       

8 servings


8 medium/large ripe Roma tomatoes (or the best in season at the time)

3 cloves fresh garlic

2 tablespoons good balsamic

6 Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (See tip for more detail)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon Fresh cracked black pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil (the best quality you can find)

1 fresh sour dough baguette, sliced into 1/2” rounds and lightly toasted on both sides


  1. Dice fresh tomatoes with sharp knife and place in large bowl. Finely mince garlic cloves (you’re eating it raw, so you want the garlic pieces to be tiny) and gently stir into tomatoes.
  2. Add in the basil and sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper to taste; stir to combine.
  3. Add just enough olive oil to moisten the tomatoes (see tip for more detail).
  4. Let mixture sit for about 20 minutes. Serve on toasted baguette slices.
  TIps & Tricks:

Tips for the BALT with Sriracha Garlic Aioli:

  • We prefer to bake the bacon instead of frying as it cooks more evenly and with curling making it easier to stack.  But the best part of this is that there is very little clean-up!  You can even use a wire rack for crispier bacon. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Place a wire rack on top of each sheet.  Arrange bacon in a single layer on the 2 racks and bake as directed! 
  • Aioli is like a garlic mayonnaise...it is made in a similar fashion as mayonnaise but without the addition of eggs.  For this recipe, we decided to make a quick version by adding flavor to plain mayonnaise to give this sandwich a little zing!  You can easily create your own version using a variety of ingredients, whether you want something a little sweeter or something with a tangier finish. Some additions you can add could include chipotle peppers, basil, dill, blue cheese, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice and/or zest, nuts/seeds toasted and chopped, tabasco and any kind of mustard or even a jelly or preserve...just to name a few.
  • Toasting your bread not only gives your sandwich that little extra crunch but it also uncovers some of those delicious, nutty-flavors (if using a good hearty, seeded bread).

Tips for the selecting cucumbers for the Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Slices:

  • As cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, select those that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market.  

  • They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips.

  • Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker.

  • While many people are used to purchasing cucumbers that have a waxed coating, it is highly recommended to choose those that are unwaxed, so the nutrient-rich skin can be eaten without consuming the wax and any chemicals trapped in it.

Tips for the Italian Bruschetta:

  • Not quite sure what "chiffonade" means?  When translated literally from the French, "chiffonade" means "made of rags."  In culinary terms, it means finely cut strips or ribbons of leafy vegetables or herbs.  To chiffonade smaller leaves, such as basil, simply stack, then roll the leaves and sliced across the vein to create the ribbon-like strips.

  • You want to be sure to follow the instructions and add just enough olive oil as the salt will draw water from the tomatoes, which will add extra liquid.  So go easy on the olive oil. You can always add more if needed!
"G-O-O-O-O-O-O TEAM!!!!"
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What Makes Young Chefs Academy's one-of-a-kind Gingerbread Houses camp experience stand apart from the rest?  It's not the candies or a team of gingerbread men helpers.

So, What's the secret?

It's teaching children and teens how to use their culinary skills to create their very own sweet creation from the ground, UP!  Culinary tips and tricks are taught by our skilled chefs as students make, bake, create and decorate...from start to finish!   

Our philosophy has always been around teaching true skills while having fun.  Learning new decorating techniques is just a piece of the delicious puzzle!  The best way to learn and appreciate the final product while developing organizational & teamwork skills is to become involved from start to finish.  The sense of accomplishment and self-worth associated during this process is priceless. 

Take a sneak peek at our Gingerbread House Design Challenge camp:


The first day, students are immersed into the baking element of the class, learning tricks-of-the-trade in making the dough, cutting out their walls and when to know they're dough is completely baked just right.


Day two, the construction begins!  Teamwork is paramount during our gingerbread house camp as they pull together to help create a sturdy frame before decorating.


Day three is where more of that creativity and imagination really shine through!  Each student uses the house they constructed by hand to make their house a home....gingerbread home, that is!

And finally on Day 4, the landscape design challenge begins!  Curb-appeal does matter!  From icing shrubs and pretzel rod trees to candy cane lampposts and sledding polar bears...the possibilities are only as endless as the imagination!

If you missed out on the fun this year, be sure to catch our next holiday Gingerbread adventure next year at a participating location near you! 

Be sure to check out the recent television interview featuring Young Chefs Academy's own corporate Culinary Coordinator, Rachel Solano, as she shares the secret of this distinctive experience.

Happy Holidays!!!
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Young Chefs Academy | Children's Coo.. by Charles Burleson - 8M ago

We're so excited that "soup season" is finally here again!!   Can you imagine...snuggled up close to a warm, crackling fire with a delicious, hearty soup?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven, right?

We have a doozy of a recipe to share using seasonal ingredients for this delicately rich dish....Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Herbed Croutons

Although the butternut squash (or known as butternut pumpkins in Australia or New Zealand) is considered a fruit, this variety of squash is moist, nutty, and sweet...lending itself as a showstopper for many savory dishes.

So, throw some logs on the fire as you finish up this lovely recipe, kick back in your favorite, cozy chair and ENJOY!

  Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Herbed Croutons

2 tablespoons butter 
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup) 
2 small garlic cloves, minced  
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 
2 stems fresh rosemary 
4 fresh sage leaves 
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes 
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes 
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed 
¾ cup heavy cream, optional 
2 cups water, plus more if needed 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage 
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary 
6 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 small baguette (10 inches long) cut into 1inch size pieces 
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Place rosemary and sage on a small square of cheesecloth, and tie with kitchen string. Stir in the herb sachet, squash, potatoes, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Discard herb sachet. Add the cream if using. Let cool slightly.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust to desired consistency with stock or water. (Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead; warm over low heat.) Season with salt and pepper. Serve with herbed croutons.
  4. For the herbed croutons: Preheat the oven to 375° F Mix herbs and cream in a medium bowl. Add the bread with cream mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread out in a single layer, and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until just browned and crisp.
  5. Croutons will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

Yield: 8 servings 

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Don't let these little guys fool you...they weren't plucked out of the pumpkin patch.  We made these miniature imposters into a mouthwatering concoction that can easily be displayed on a plate or serving platter! And what's inside is an even better, delicious surprise. 

But first, what was our inspiration?  We chose one of our favorite symbols of Halloween....the Jack O'Lantern. 

Origin of the Jack O'Lantern

The tale of the Jack O'Lantern began back in the mid-1600s in Ireland.  The swamps would mysteriously flicker with a flame in the distance causing people to assume this was a mysterious being stalking the swamps at night ~ Come to find out many years later, this is a phenomenom caused when a decomposing plant oxidizes.  This bizarre occurrence was the beginning of the legend of Stingy Jack, who carried a turnip lit from within by a single candle.

The legend evolved over time ~ and miles ~ as it came to the states.  The beloved Jack O'Lantern has become a time-honored holiday decoration, adorning the porches and windowsills of houses to celebrate the season and provide a lively, slightly eerie glow.

Of course, our YCA kitchens turned this tradition into an edible treat!  Choosing oranges to replicate the pumpkin and filling it with a decadent brownie center, we created our own version of a pumpkin patch that can easily become the centerpiece of your Halloween dessert table.  No candle required!  But you'll definitely want to have plenty of spoons at the ready for these little goodies.

Let's begin and bring our sweet creatures to life!

First, we MISE! 

Don't forget!  Read your recipe all the way through and gather all of your equipment and ingredients together to avoid leaving out important steps, or worse...having to rush to the grocery store halfway through to pick up ingredients you thought you had on hand!  Yikes!


Why do you mix the butter and sugars together before adding it to our dry ingredients?  This is called the "creaming method."  When you combine the butter and sugar together first, you are creating air bubbles that will expand when baked, creating that fluffy texture we all love so well.

What other actions help create that fluffy texture? 

  • Using room temperature eggs
  • Adding your eggs one at a time ~ this creates a more elastic structure for those air bubbles we created to adhere to, allowing the batter to expand


You want to be sure that you cut off just enough from the bottom of your oranges so that your pumpkins sit up nice and straight.  It's okay if a little of the orange flesh shows through but there should be a good amount of the inner rind to hold the ingredients in while baking.

The top portion can be completely trimmed off, allowing you to scoop out the orange flesh easily.


This is the fun part...scooping out the inner portions of the orange is almost like a real pumpkin ~ minus those delicious pumpkin seeds we love to roast.

It's okay if you don't completely clear your orange of the all of the inner flesh.  Leaving just a little bit of the orange flesh will just enhance the citrus-y flavor.


Now on to the tasty portion!  While you prepared your oranges, your brownie batter has been resting.  This allows the gluten to relax so that your final product is not tough or too chewy. 

The amount of batter you place in each orange depends on the size of your "pumpkins."  We filled ours up, leaving approx. 1/2" space to allow for rising but without overflowing.  This created a fluffy brownie top where the pumpkin lid will sit.


It's time to turn our oranges into a pumpkin! 

When you are poking a hole into the orange "top," be sure to get as close to the stalk portion that you can so that your candy leaf will cover this area.  Make your hole just large enough for your pretzel stick to be inserted.


Poke your pretzel stick through the candy leaf first and then into the hole made in the top of the orange. 

Decorate your cooled pumpkin with a marker (it's okay to use a marker since this portion is not what we will be eating!).  Give each pumpkin a different face for a fun, finished product.  Have fun with decorating your plate to create the illusion that your "pumpkins" are waiting patiently to be plucked from the garden.

Jack O'Lantern Orange Brownies


½ cup unsalted butter, melted

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup flour

⅓ cup cocoa

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chocolate chips

6-8 oranges

Green Gum Drop

Pretzel Sticks


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray each well of a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the butter, sugars, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and then add them to the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients together by adding the flour mixture into the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Prepare the oranges by cutting off just a bit of the bottom to provide a flat surface for placing on the baking sheet. Next, cut off the top of the orange, this time cutting off enough so that you can actually see the flesh (the edible fruit) of the orange.
  6. Next, cut out the flesh of the orange. Start by making one long round cut between the inside of the pith (the white membrane of the peel) and the flesh. Make a few more diagonal cuts through the center of the orange. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
  7. Begin popping out wedges of the inside of the orange and removing the pulp. (It is fine to leave a bit of the pulp inside. It will just add to the flavor of the brownie.) Drain the juice from the center. Keep working until you have hollowed-out the oranges.
  8. Fill each orange with brownie batter, filling to within a half inch of the top. Wrap the outside of each orange with a piece of foil covering just the bottom and sides of the orange, leaving the top unwrapped. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out slightly-coated. (If you under-bake these you will have delicious orange-chocolate molten lava cakes.)
  9. Garnish: Use scissors to cut a green gum drop in half. Using a rolling pin, roll the gum drop out until it is flat. Use a pair of scissors to cut along the edges of the gum drop so that it resembles a leaf. Use a skewer to poke a hole in each of the tops of the oranges. Take a pretzel stick and poke it through the middle of the gum drop leaf. Insert the pretzel with the leaf into the orange top. Place the orange top back on the orange.

:   approx. 6 large or 9 medium orange “pumpkins”

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When you hear the word "healthy eating," what comes to mind? 

Replacing everything you love with only fruits and vegetables?  Grabbing pre-packaged foods with "Low Fat!," "Nutritious!," "No Sugar Added!"? 

Actually, it's all about becoming involved in the planning and preparation of meals and the knowledge gained along the way.  When children begin to develop their culinary abilities early on, they open up the doors to a world of options and choices that otherwise would not be a consideration.

Every individual's perception can be a little different when looking at making the change to living a healthier lifestyle by modifying some of our eating habits.  But some find this a difficult challenge when you have yet to develop the building blocks necessary to be successful. 

In a recent Forbes interview by Noma Nazish of FORBES, Young Chefs Academy Founder and CEO, Julie Burleson, shares the secret ingredient for empowering the next generation of healthier young chefs by providing them with the arsenal they need to make nutritional alterations in their everyday lives. 

Here, Julie shares some of the trade secrets she's learned along her journey in building a proven business model. 

Click Here for full article

"Studies show children are more likely to eat healthy foods when they prepare them ~ this is why cooking from scratch is heavily incorporated into our curriculum...Children have a deeper understanding of what they're eating and how it affects their health when they understand [the process]." ~ Julie Burleson

Young Chefs Academy provides culinary education instruction that allows students to be introduced to  new foods and flavor combinations while developing a better understanding of how certain foods could affect their health.  YCA is the only place where inspiration and creativity flow while building the framework for an entirely new generation of chefs.

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The unknown is scary business!

While pride and a sense of accomplishment can come with opening your own business, there can also be a sense of uncertainty as you encounter hurdles along the way.  You're checking off the boxes to get your project off the ground:

  • Finalized your business plan with a concise SWOT analysis....CHECK!
  • Found the perfect location...CHECK!
  • Opened your company account...CHECK!
  • Obtained all of the licensing necessary...CHECK!
  • Hired employees...CHECK, CHECK!

Everything seems to be slowly, but surely, going your way!  But wait.  I don't have a marketing plan in place, AND a great website to generate online traffic, AND a complete grasp on the ever-changing world of social media, AND a structured plan to measure and optimize my ROI....the list just keeps growing.

There is another option.....

Franchising holds the key to the mysteries behind many of the obstacles that otherwise keep passionate entrepreneurs from seeing their dreams through to fruition.  When you consider franchising as a business model, you find an avenue that enables you to own your own business while backed by a proven business model that has fine-tuned the back-end work for you and supports your business together with you throughout the remainder of your franchise agreement. 

With franchising, you are supported and encouraged by a team of experts who understand the business from top to bottom and use that knowledge to help you succeed.  If you don't succeed, neither does the organization.  Most importantly, a great franchise concept provides support from the moment you become a franchise partner, such as with the Young Chefs Academy system through:

  • Site location
  • Build-out support
  • On-site and continual training and support with marketing strategies & tools
  • On-site & continual training in operational processes & procedures
  • Dedicated website & email domain
  • Social media training and assistance
  • Business analysis & benchmarking
  • Streamlined & fully integrated operating system
  • Curated weekly curriculum

A promotional shot taken by Paul Child for The French Chef

Photograph by Paul Child/The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Pictured left is Julia Child's filming her notorious cooking show. 

Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie states, "This photo of our beloved Julia also illustrates the goal we set to ensure our franchisees feel the support offered by corporate as they operate their YCA businesses." 

You can be in business for yourself,

not by yourself!

Franchise Owner Testimony:

Keera Reid, YCA franchise owner and operator in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa, FL shared the following regarding her experience with the Young Chefs Academy team: 

"I absolutely feel like the owners and executive team of the YCA master franchise have a personal interest in the success of my business.  Yes, it is true that ultimately, my success is their success.  However, thus far, they have made every single resource available to me in preparation for the launch of my business.

From the moment I initially reached out to YCA back in March 2017 to inquire about the business, I have felt nothing but included in the future vision of our company.  I am not just a number.  The team has been nothing but available to me for any type of help, questions, feedback, and just overall support as a new business owner.  The level of support has only grown since I made the decision to sign on as a new franchisee.  I feel fully supported in this venture."


Julie Shares the Secret Sauce To Success With FOX News

Determining the perfect franchise model rests solely on the individual and what they are seeking based on their lifestyle. 

Recently, Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie Burleson, shared with FOX News how she turned her passion of working with children and cooking into a lifelong pursuit to bring the same to other like-minded entrepreneurs.


Fox News Young Chefs - YouTube

If being in business for yourself, but not by yourself, consider a franchise concept that suits your lifestyle, goals and aspirations, along with a support team that looks to your success as importantly as you would yourself. 

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