Thyme for Kids - a family, food, and franchising blog
Thyme for Kids - a family, food, and franchising blog
Into food, family, or franchising? You're in the right place. The recipe for blogging here at YCA is to keep it simple, entertaining, educational, and to the point. We take one simple concept and give you our unique perspective.
From our franchisees, our students, or our corporate staff - if you hear it here, you know it's all us, all original and all fresh. We might tell you the story of a bright young chef who taught his instructor a few things, then next maybe the latest culinary trend (beef tongue sliders?). There is nothing ordinary about any of our franchises, and we delight in sharing the extraordinary "scoop"! Enjoy, comment, and please share.
8:25 AM

How Young Chefs Academy Founder and CEO Turned Her Passions Into A Profession

Marlboro MCs 


Culinary learning opportunities for children and teens were slim to none when Young Chefs® Academy Founder and CEO, Julie Burleson, came up with the idea behind a cooking school for kids, teens and families. 


Check out the recent Business News Daily Business News Daily Article to find out more about how the idea was conceived and the driving force behind the Young Chefs® Academy concept.


Young Chefs Academy Had MasterChef™ Programs before MasterChef Jr....

Julie was the visionary who identified a need and acted on it, paving the way for others to witness the many advantages there were to teaching children the joy and value of cooking.  When Young Chefs® Academy began, there was no special programming for children in the culinary realm, such as MasterChef Jr., Chopped Jr., and, Kids Baking Championship, as there are today.

In its infancy, Julie created the official MasterChef™ Program.  This program provided an avenue for serious young chefs to work towards a common goal of mastering the essential culinary skills developed over an extended period of time.  Members acquire patches after accomplishing specific skills which ultimately commences to earning the coveted MasterChef™ Jacket.   The program ultimately gave rise to several members selected as finalists on some of the top television cooking programs on television today, such as Josh of our Forest Hills, NY location or Riley from Fort Worth.

"The team at Young Chefs Academy recommended that I audition for MasterChef Junior when I was 10. Initially I was scared and very, very skeptical. I had all these images of Gordon Ramsay throwing things, cursing, being extremely intimidating, and of me embarrassing myself," states Josh during an interview with Ramentality (  Today, Josh continues to pursue his love of cooking through Pop-Up Ramen restaurant experiences and television appearances.

Build it and they will come....

What started as a local cooking school for kids in Waco, TX quickly blossomed into an international franchise with locations across the globe. The Young Chefs® Academy's mission has always been to teach the joy and value of cooking to children and teens.

A key element built within the Young Chefs Academy philosophy is the continued pursuit to differentiate the brand and provide innovative initiatives affording the YCA franchise family the ability to flourish. 

Our goal is to maintain a strong brand presence through:

  • A network of strong franchise owners who share our passion
  • The devotion of creating an unparalleled customer experience
  • Robust programming & retention programs
  • Executive team with over 150 years of franchise experience dedicated to maintaining and seeking innovative solutions for our franchise owners and customers
  • A company culture and concept like no other in the market today
  • National partnerships who align with our core mission

To grow is to change...


In an effort to further strengthen our brand, Julie brought on two key partners to the team, Roger Schmidt and Kevin Ayers in 2014.  With their many years of franchise experience, the Young Chefs® Academy brand continues to flourish into new markets, both domestically and internationally.

"Both Kevin & Roger bring with them extensive franchise experience and a passion for what Young Chefs™ is all about," states Burleson.  "Our company culture is one that I feel strongly about maintaining and both of my partners share the same core beliefs within the culture we have created."

Take a listen to the latest podcast where Julie shares insight about how she grew her family

and her business with the Young Chefs Academy franchise on Your Working Life with Caroline Dowd-Higgins:

Let's face's about more than just learning a recipe...Young Chefs® Academy offers the opportunity to bring  ingredients to life through creative expression, the mastering of techniques, learning about new cuisines, and developing a love for crafting something uniquely their own.  Each class, event and birthday party creates a culinary experience that our Young Chefs can take with them that will last a lifetime. 

To find out more about Young Chefs Academy franchise opportunities, visit us at:



Behind the scenes with Julie B.: 



At the Merideth Group in New York City on a visit with Parenting Magazine


"Serious Fun" when Kevin's around....(pictured with Julie ~ Kevin Ayers, YCA Vice President)



Julie & Roger (YCA President) at the IFA Convention


Julie_Roger_BelAir_YCA background

Fuzzy Friends Fundraising Dinner with YCA chefs in the kitchen

From left to right:  Roger Schmidt (YCA President); Julie, Adam & Anthony Bell (Father/son YCA owners of Bel Air, MD)



Julie in the YCA Corporate Headquarter's Test Kitchen


Julie with YCA Owner in Forest Hills, NY, Chris Chesleigh during on-site visit








3:34 PM

Earn the Extra Point With These Touchdown Recipes!


No matter who you're rooting for, game day food brings us together.  This year, forget the traditional buffalo wings and cheese dip (although we do love these!).  Call an audible and create these little, bites-of-heaven with our winning touchdown recipes that will have your guests drooling!

To get us started our test kitchen created a tastier version of the traditional slider....


  • Miso Mushroom Sliders with a flavorful aioli
  • Chili Dog Sliders with homemade Tomatillo Relish

Then we added a zesty side to top it all off:


  • Our Zesty Salt & Vinegar Fries with Chipotle Ketchup


These little goodies are easy to pull together just in time for the big kickoff! 

Let's go TEAM!!


Miso Mushroom Sliders


1/2 Red Onion
8 oz. mushrooms

1 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, peeled
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. yellow miso paste
1 tsp. red wine vinegar


1 1/4 lb. ground chuck (80/20%)
1 Tbsp. yellow miso paste
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Olive oil to brush on rolls
10 slider buns or rolls

1 tsp. olive oil

5 slices white cheddar cheese, sliced into quarters


  1. Cut mushrooms and red onion into thin slices.  Set aside.
  2. For the aioli:  Mince the garlic and add a pinch of salt.  Continue mincing the garlic and salt until it has become a paste.  Use the side of the knife to press the two together.  Once a paste has formed, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the mayonnaise, miso and vinegar.  Whisk together well; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. For the burgers:  Combine ground beef, 1 Tbsp. miso, hoisin, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.  Shape the meat into 10 balls.  Flatten the balls so they are about 2 inches thick.  Using your finger, make a small dimple in the middle of each burger.  (This will prevent your burgers from bulging when cooked and create a more evenly flat burger.) 
  5. Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Brush cut side down of each bun with olive oil.  Toast, cut side down, until golden brown for about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil and enough patties to not overcrowd the pan.  Cook for about 4 minutes, then flip and add mushrooms.  Cook until mushrooms are brown and burgers reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees ~ 4-5 minutes.  Transfer burgers to a plate and top with 2 of the quartered pieces of sliced cheese.
  7. Place a bottom bun on plate and top with the aioli, burger, mushrooms and red onion.  Cover with top bun.



IMG_8883  IMG_8910

1st Down Chili Dog Sliders


Tomatillo Relish:

8 oz. tomatillos (~ 3 med.), finely chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. lime juice (1-2 limes)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed if desired, finely chopped
½ medium red onion, finely chopped

6 all-beef sausages, grilled
10 oz. can of chili



  1. For the Tomatillo Relish: Mix together the tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, jalapenos and onions in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.
  2. Cut a "V" shape out of the baguette and remove some of the bread to make room for the sausages and toppings.
  3. To serve, line grilled sausages into the well of the bread.  Top with chili, mustard and relish.  Slice into bite-size pieces and serve.



Salt & Vinegar Oven Fries with Chipotle Ketchup


4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes with skin, approx. 4 medium potatoes
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar for soaking, plus 2 Tbsp. for sprinkling
Parmesan cheese for garnish


Chipotle ketchup:

½ cup ketchup
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 can chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce



  1. For the Chipotle Ketchup:  Pour the ketchup, vinegar, chipotles and adobo sauce directly into a food processor and run until pureed.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. For the Potatoes:  Cut each potato into four slabs (depending on width) then cut again across those four slabs to make 1/2 inch stick shapes.  The important thing is you keep as uniform in size as possible.
  3. Soak the potatoes in enough cold water to cover.  Soaking removes the excess starch and makes them crisp up when they are baked.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. vinegar and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. 
  4. After soaking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drain the potatoes and dry on paper towels.  It’s very important to remove the moisture so the potatoes will crisp in the oven.
  5. Toss the potatoes on a baking sheet where they will be in a single layer, with the olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley.
  6. Bake on the first side for 20 minutes, then flip and bake for another 15-20 until golden and crisp.  Sprinkle with sea salt & 2 Tbsp. vinegar.  Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan.


Yield:   Serves 6

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