YCA Reaches Milestone As They Gear Up For Expansion

Reflecting on their relentless pursuit of perfecting their Recipe for: SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS

As we look back at not only the last year, but since the inception of Young Chefs Academy in 2004, our hearts are full.


Many of you have heard the story of how YCA founder and CEO, Julie Burleson, brought the YCA concept from a dream to reality (Female Entrepreneur interview with Julie found HERE)  But it’s the stories and events that have unfolded over the past 10+ years that continue to make us stand back in wonder at all that has occurred since the beginning.

However, if you ask anyone of us at the YCA Headquarters in Waco, TX, we will say the biggest sense of pride comes from those we have welcomed into the YCA family…the franchise owners.  These successful franchisees are a KEY ingredient of the YCA organization.  They are the folks who touch the lives of the families in their communities.

A major milestone is reached for the Young Chefs brand:

2016 marked the first 10-year Franchise Renewals for Young Chefs as four franchises were awarded a second ten-year Franchise Agreement.  This is quite a milestone in any franchise company; and one that does not go unnoticed at the YCA Headquarters.

What is the secret to success?  The YCA FRANCHISEES.  At YCA, we are committed to bringing aboard franchisees who are passionate about our mission, are business savvy and believe in the power of following a proven system.  These four locations’ owners exemplify these key traits.

Congratulations to Lyle Stone, owner Marlboro, NJ ~, Kristen Braia owner, Richmond, VA Jill Jacobs, owner Gahanna, OH Karen and Chris Chesleigh, owners, Forest Hills, NY.  We are proud to call you our partners.

But, what’s it really like to own a YCA Business?

We recently caught up with these owners to hear what they had to say about their journeys as YCA franchise owners.  See for yourself the JOY they bring to their business and why the YCA family VALUES them!

Lyle Stone pic
Lyle in his YCA kitchen in Marlboro, NJ

"At YCA Marlboro, 2016 was a wonderful year of small miracles— seeing student’s skills grow and watching them develop a love of cooking. Our program for 2017, from Kindercooks to Teens and our students with disabilities, has increased dramatically. We are hopeful for more miracles for 2017!"

~Lyle Stone, YCA Franchise Owner in Marlboro, NJ

"I chose a cooking school for children because so many wonderful things can come out of the kitchen. A healthy relationship with food, a sense of confidence that comes with real accomplishment and real contribution, and it’s just plain fun to share the joy of cooking."

"My favorite thing is watching the kids grow within our program, not just with their culinary skills, but in their lives, real positive change. It makes everything we do worthwhile. These kids become like family and their parents do too."

~ Kristen Braia, YCA Franchise Owner in Richmond, VA
Kristen Braia in the classroom


Jill with Faith, a YCA student diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Jill sponsored a fundraiser for Faith and her classmates
"My fondest childhood memories are from my grandmother's kitchen.  Years later, I realized that food brought us together and that while we were cooking meals we were creating memories. I couldn't resist the opportunity to get paid for creating more memories and the opportunity to share that with children in my community.

I love what I do and it never feels like work! "

~ Jill Jacobs, YCA Franchise Owner in Gahanna, OH

"Seeing our students’ prideful faces at the end of each class. It's such a positive love filled environment. It makes us happy living in the moment.

In 2006 I read an article in Working Women's Magazine. Instantly I knew I had found my mission in life. What a perfect way to educate children about nutrition through this creative vehicle."

~ Chris & Karen Chesleigh, YCA Franchise Owner in Forest Hills, NY
Chris & Karen with Josh Reisner, Season 2 finalist on MasterChef Junior


These people are our SECRET INGREDIENT.  They are the pioneers who have been with us through the successes, the challenges, the changes.  We honor them today and look forward to having them on board as our leaders, advocates, mentors to the new owners and all that we’ll be welcoming aboard in the years to come.  It’s an exciting time for YCA and we have these franchise owners to thank!


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