How we got started

Registered Dietitian and Owner, Leah Smith, developed Kids Kitchen in 2011 to educate, encourage, and excite families about getting their kids into the kitchen to create a love of cooking nutritious foods. We believe that teaching kids about how foods fuel our bodies and enabling them to create recipes on their own will have a positive impact on their life-long healthy eating habits. Start right, stay right! Your child will be excited about foods you never thought they would try! If we empower them to choose healthy foods at a very young age, then, as they become independent, they will make better food choices for fueling their bodies.

Opening the doors of Kitchen House in September 2016, was a dream come true! A place to continue to offer cooking classes for kids, but expansion to provide nutrition services, teach adult cooking classes, host craft nights, celebrate all of life’s special occasions and more! We are truly passionate about designing all of the details for classes and celebrations to create fun, nutritious, tasty, and memorable experiences. We hope to celebrate with you soon!

 

Meet the Kitchen House Team!

Here are some of the amazing and talented team members who keep Kitchen House and Kids Kitchen cooking!

Leah Smith

Leah Smith

Registered Dietitian & Culinary Nutritionist, Owner/Founder

I am a native Texan, and have lived all my life in the Greater Austin area. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree and then completed my dietetic internship at the University of Houston. Professionally, my career as a registered dietitian, did not begin by teaching cooking classes, but it has always been kid-nutrition focused. I first began by educating parents of infants and preschoolers about the importance of nutrition in even the youngest. Through my work, I fostered good nutrition awareness in various communities in central Texas. My focus shifted to children of all ages, as my own children grew. I have 2 children, who now make their own lunches for school, and sometimes even breakfast and dinner for our family!

I developed Kids Kitchen in 2011 to encourage kids and their families to incorporate a variety of nutritious foods into their meals. Opening the doors of Kitchen House in 2016 allowed me to express my creativity in a different way by designing all of the details that go into our recipes, menus for events, tablescapes, crafts and decor!

I look forward to sharing our cooking class stories and recipes with you, as well as the recipes we try at home. Read our Recipe Blog.

 

Robin Spiotto

Robin Spiotto

Kitchen House Manager, Cooking Instructor, & Resident Photographer

As a young child, I wanted to be a chef when I grew up! I received a “Klutz Kids Cookbook” for Christmas one year. I remember pouring over the pages of the cookbook, planning what I would make, taking little notes in the margins. I spent hours with that little cookbook (I still have it!), making everything from brownies, to homemade applesauce, to lasagna. Food brings us together. It’s one of the things I love about it.

I have been blessed with 4 beautiful children and an Italian husband whom I get to cook for all the time, and I love it! It has been important to me to teach my family about healthy eating, being open minded, trying new things, while always honoring our long time family recipes. In my home, the kitchen is the heart.

I didn’t end up being a professional chef, instead I’m the wearer of many hats. In addition to managing the schedule at Kitchen House, I am studying American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, I’m working portrait photographer, I lead a troop of 16 awesome Girl Scouts, and of course, a mom of 4.

My favorite recipes to make and enjoy are meat marinara and homemade bread.

Samantha DeLaTorre

Samantha DeLaTorre

Professional Chef, Instructor

It was a family friend who originally got me interested in cooking. We would watch cooking shows, make dinner, and she made it an adventure. After graduating high school, I left Austin to attend culinary school at the Art Institute of Dallas. I graduated with an Associates of Applied Science in Culinary, and moved back to Austin.

I spent some wonderful years working in the organized chaos of kitchens around town before returning to my original love of working with kids. As a nanny, I was introduced to three families who were open and warm and made me feel like I was a part of their family. It was actually the first family I worked for who turned me on to the idea of combining my two career loves: working with kids…in a cooking setting. Kitchen House is such a wonderful place to make my career dream come true.

My favorite recipes to make and enjoy is anything pasta. With cheese. The more cheese the better!

Natasha Daya

Natasha Daya

Cooking Instructor & Nutritionist

As an elementary school teacher I always enjoyed teaching my students about health and nutrition. I found that incorporating food and cooking into my lessons was a great way to engage students while teaching them a variety of concepts, from math to science to language. After a few years in teaching, I decided to pursue my second passion and went back to school to obtain my Masters degree in Nutrition. I then began working with individuals and families to educate them in developing healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

I am thrilled to work at Kitchen House, which allows me to combine my love for teaching with my passion for health and nutrition. I see cooking as a fun and effective way to teach children to make healthy food and lifestyle choices, which in turn has a positive impact on their long-term health. My favorite part about being an Instructor is seeing the excitement on my students’ faces when I tell them what recipe we are making each week, and I enjoy it even more when a student discovers a healthy dish that they love to eat!

My favorite recipes to prepare are zucchini bread and dahl, an Indian lentil curry.

Denisse Morales

Denisse Morales

Cooking Instructor

In my family the kitchen is the heart of the house. At a very young age, I began helping my mom prepare meals for the family. Starting with simple tasks such as flipping tortillas and then with time, slowly graduating to making multiplexed recipes like tamales from scratch. My culinary school was life and my instructors were my parents, grandmother and other family members and friends. With the help of a cousin, a nutritionist, I learned the nutritional side of food and how to make healthy eating delicious.

As I worked as a nanny, my love for child care grew. I learned how to talk to children and not at them, as well as how to cultivate a practice-of- patience when teaching children something new.

When my nephew had his birthday at Kitchen House, I found an opportunity to combine my culinary knowledge with my affection of children. I am so grateful to be a part of the Kitchen House family! In my spare time I like to indulge in going to the movies, getting lost in a book, listening to live music, discovering new places to eat and sharing it all with loved ones.

My one favorite food to prepare is eggs, because of the many dishes they can become; to Migas and Deviled Eggs to Quiches and Eggs Benedict.

Ellyn Freiborg

Ellyn Freiborg

Cooking Instructor

I will graduate from Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Foods in May 2020. After graduation, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in Human Nutrition and a complete a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. I am a huge foodie and love to play and experiment with new recipes which is what brought me to Kids Kitchen! I love to teach kids how to make healthy recipes and most importantly have fun with cooking! I love being outside and spending time with my horses and my goal is to hike in every state park in Texas. I am also an avid artist. I love to draw and paint in my free time and of course, cook.

My favorite recipe to make with my classes is pasta. You just can’t beat fresh pasta and marinara sauce!

 

Merrick Bradford

Cooking Instructor

At my kindergarten graduation ceremony, all the children were expected to announce what they want to be when they grow up and when it was my turn, I proudly stated that I wanted to be a “cooker”.

Ever since I watched Food Network as a young child, I have always been in love with cooking. I still feel guilty for the havoc I wreaked on my family’s kitchen all those years as a young budding chef trying to imitate Food Network stars’ recipes. I didn’t start by any means as a gifted baker but through many deflated souffles, dense loaves of bread, and burnt cakes, I gained more knowledge as a baker.

By the time I was in high school, I was selling my pastries and cakes around my small hometown. During college, I worked as a cook and I continued to hone my skills as a chef. In December 2018, I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in English and I moved to Austin. I’ve worked in a wide variety of kitchens from a 5-star restaurant to a small chocolate shop. What I love about cooking is that no matter how much I improve, there is always more to learn. The art of cooking has taught me skills that are equally relevant in everyday life as well as the kitchen. I’ve learned that patience is crucial, practice is essential, and sometimes you can follow a recipe exactly and it still won’t turn out but you just have to try again.

I am so ecstatic to be a part of the Kitchen House team, and I look forward to continuing to grow as a chef as I get to share my knowledge and passion for food with others.

Gayla Stuart

Gayla Stuart

Cooking Instructor, High School Culinary Teacher

Growing up right here in Austin, my family always valued dinner time and for the most part, we enjoyed home cooked meals at the same time every day. I came to appreciate the art of preparing a great meal and having family time around the table and along with my husband, have tried to continue that with our 5 children. Given the busy nature of our society and the fast paced/fast food schedule so many families keep, educating our youth about good nutrition and making healthy food choices is more important than ever. I also have always had a passion for cooking, entertaining and working with kids. I have a degree in Education with an emphasis on Food and Nutrition from Texas Christian University and teach Culinary Arts, the most popular elective offered, at Anderson High School. I have the wonderful opportunity to teach hundreds of teenagers every year how to be effective and efficient in the kitchen while educating them on making healthy food choices. They may not change their habits immediately but we are building awareness and planting seeds about the long term effects of good nutrition that will hopefully stick with them for a lifetime.

I have always loved kids of all ages and so enjoy teaching classes, parties and events at Kitchen House. It is so wonderful that such a place exists and allows me to bring my love for cooking, creativity and kids all together in a festive warm environment! In my spare time, I like to run, read, shop, cook, or dine out and spend time with kids and grandkids.

Hear what people are saying …

“My daughter loved the class and came home and made dinner for the family! That’s never happened before! Following written directions is one of her challenges in school so we are thrilled she’s interested in cooking and therefore reading/following the directions on the recipe or box. Not to mention its fabulous to have dinner or anything else made by someone other than me! Thank you so much for your class!”

– Lisa from Georgetown

Upcoming classes & events

Tick-tock. You had better register soon, as these classes and events are filling up quickly. Don’t forget that we can customize a fantastic special event just for you!

SEE WHAT'S COOKING

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