After spending more than 20 years creating education programs for nonprofits such as the San Diego Zoo and the YMCA, the last thing Sherri Hansen expected to do was open her own business. Yet, that’s exactly what the LSU graduate did, opening Culinary Kids in Mandeville in 2012.
Married and the mother of four young boys, Hansen returned to Louisiana to raise her family after stints in California, Washington and Virginia. In deciding to open her business, she successfully has blended her loves of education, food and health, and hopes that her work encourages families to spend quality time together in the kitchen.
NF: What’s been the most rewarding part about growing your business?
SH: The Ah-ha moments. You know, those moments when you’re watching the face of a child, and you can see the gears turning and the connections being made – the moment when knowledge meets joy. It’s hard to describe, but watching others learn something that matters to them is priceless.
NF: Do you find owning your own business gives you more flexibility to do things with your kids?
SH: Absolutely, and on top of that, my kids get to learn what it’s like to run a business. This leads to a natural appreciation for other things in life. All of the businesses that they see in the community need so many things to run smoothly, and my children are exposed to the joys and the challenges that most people would not notice.
NF: Plans for growth?
SH: We purchased our own facility a year ago, which has allowed us to expand program offerings. The newest addition has been our special needs garden, where we are growing various seasonal vegetables and herbs that all of our programs can use throughout the year. We are able to offer more complete food experiences now, and more of a farm-to-table approach.
NF: What dish do your students enjoy cooking the most and why?
SH: A few dishes come to mind – pancake art being the first because the kids are allowed to be creative with colors and designs, as they practice safety at the griddle. Combining food and art is a great experience for the kids, and they are always so proud of their work.
Culinary Kids, 915 Marigny Ave., Mandeville. 985.727.5553. culinarykidsns.com.