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.
4:23 PM

Bacon & Chocolate Lovers, UNITE!


You know, most of us just can't pass up the ooey, gooey-ness of the classic chocolate chip cookie.'re walking into the house and you get hit with that sweet, chocolatey aroma that just jolts you in the direction of the kitchen.  As that batch of cookies are pulled, fresh from the oven, your mouth starts to water and your taste buds start to tingle.

Well, it's kind of the same sensation when you smell bacon, right?  It's just hitting the savory side of your buds.

Have we got a treat for all you bacon-chocoholics!!  We've fused both of these undeniable flavors together to create a sweet and savory delicacy you just cannot refuse ~ The Bacon-Chocolate Chip Cookie. 

Let's Go Bake Up Some Fun!


Bacon-Chocolate Chip Cookies
A Young Chefs® Academy Recipe


1/2 lb. smoked bacon, thick cut
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Slice the bacon into 1-inch pieces.  Place the bacon in a cold cast iron skillet and set over medium heat.  Once the bacon sizzles, begin to stir until the bacon is crisp and golden brown.  Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.  Chop when cool.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
  4. In the bowl from the stand mixer, cream together the melted butter and all sugars until well blended.  Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.
  5. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped bacon by hand using a wooden spoon.
  6. Drop cookie dough 1 tablespoon at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.  Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield:  about 4-5 dozen cookies

12:12 AM

To Grill or Not To Grill?....We're Grilling!

We just couldn't help it....we had to share another delicious recipe for this star-spangled holiday.

The Fourth of July is a great time for celebrating our independence with family, friends and guessed it...great food!  It's time to fire up the grill for a good 'ol American burger with a twist ~ Bacon Burgers with Grilled Peaches. 


Happy Fourth of July!

Grilling for the 4th_copy

Bacon Burger with Grilled Peaches

A Young Chefs® Academy Recipe


1 ½ lb. ground beef 80/20*
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. goat cheese
2 peaches or nectarines, sliced

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 dash salt
8 oz. spinach, washed and dried
6 buns
Avocado, sliced (optional)


Mixing bowls
Measuring cups/spoons
Clean hands
Large skillet
Grill or grill pan
Plate lined with paper towels
Cutting board


1.   In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Mix together using your clean hands. Then divide the meat into 6 equal portions. Shape into patties, place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate. Wait to season with salt and pepper until right before cooking.

2.   In a large skillet, add the bacon and set the pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining bacon. Set the bacon aside to cool. Transfer the bacon fat to a heat proof bowl and reserve.

3.   Add the onions to the skillet and set over medium-low heat and sauté until the onions are caramelized, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

4.  Preheat the grill or grill pan. Allow the grill to get hot and then brush the grates with oil.

5.   Remove the burgers from the refrigerator and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, then rotate the burger and cook another 2-3 minutes. Flip the burger and repeat. Remove the burger and keep warm in a low oven until they have all been cooked.

6.   Place the peaches on the grill; cook for 4-5 minutes per side until they begin to soften and caramelize. Remove and set aside.

7.   In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, Dijon and salt. Pour this over the spinach and toss to coat all of the leaves.

8.  Toast the buns, if desired. To assemble the burger, spread the goat cheese on the bottom bun, top with a burger and a piece of bacon broken into 2 pieces. Add the spinach and top with grilled onions, avocado, and peaches. Spread mayonnaise on the top half of each bun and close the sandwich. Slice in half and serve immediately.

 Yield: about 6 burgers

Why use 80/20 meat for grilling?

When buying ground beef, did you know you have choices? What are those choices? Basically it is the ratio of the amount of fat to the amount of beef in the ground meat.

Of course, the different kinds of meat have different purposes. There is:

o   Ground Beef - 73% Lean, 27% Fat

o   Ground Chuck - 80% Lean, 20% Fat

o   Ground Sirloin - 85% Lean, 15% Fat

o   Ground Round - 90% Lean, 10 % Fat

-  What you are cooking will determine which type of beef you need to use. We prefer ground chuck for hamburgers because it is fattier, and this helps hold the burgers together.  Ground round can fall apart on the grill because it's low in fat content and won’t hold together.

-  You can also use a combination of ground chuck and ground round, which holds together well but also reduces some of the fat content per burger.

-   The fattier meat will also help to make your burgers juicier.

-  Use ground round or ground sirloin when browning meat for casseroles or tacos because you won’t lose so much weight due to the fat being drained off.

3:04 PM

Summertime Tacos just in time for the 4th!

Don't you just love all of the fresh, cool ingredients of summer dishes? 

Our Young Chefs students went to work this past month making a variety of dishes from the International Kitchen to Cupcake Insanity, but one of the favorites was a delicious mix of refreshing & delectable ingredients that just screams "SUMMER!" during our Summertime Favorites Camp ~ Fish Tacos with delicious Watermelon & Pineapple Salsa. 

This recipe packs a cool, sweet crunch with each bite.... Fish tacos are a savory dish "must" in the summer because fish are readily available.

Be sure to check out some of the YCA tips from the Test Kitchens at the end of the recipe!


Fish Tacos with Watermelon and Pineapple Salsa

A Young Chefs® Academy Recipe


2 cups watermelon, small dice
2 cups pineapple, small dice
½ cup red onion, small dice
3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
½ - 1 jalapeno pepper, ribs, seeds removed and small dice
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Tabasco sauce, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste
1 romaine lettuce heart, thinly sliced

1 lb. flounder or any firm white-fleshed fish
½ cup milk

½ cup flour, preferably Wondra or other fine-milled flour
1 ½ tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
Pat of butter

12 (6-inch) fresh corn tortillas
Queso fresco or Monterrey jack cheese, to garnish
1 avocado, sliced
1 lime, sliced


Large mixing bowls
Cutting board
Shallow bowls
Sheet pan lined with a wire rack
Large skillet
Cast iron skillet
Warm, clean kitchen towel
Plate lined with paper towels


1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, pineapple, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime and olive oil. Toss to blend all of the flavors. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Slice the lettuce into thin strips. Cover and refrigerate.

3.  Cut the fish into strips, about ½-inch wide and about 3 inches long. Cut the fish across the grain. Pour the milk into another medium bowl, and place the fish into it.

4.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, chili powder, salt and pepper.

5.  Remove the fish pieces from the milk bath and dredge them lightly through the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Place the coated fish on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack. Transfer the fish to the freezer for 15-30 minutes.

6.   Pour the vegetable oil into a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Add the butter to the pan. Place some fish pieces in the oil, without crowding them, and cook until deep golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn carefully and cook for 1 minute more.

7.  Remove to a warmed plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining fish. Keep warm.

8.   Meanwhile, lightly grease a skillet with a drizzle of oil and set over medium heat. Heat the tortillas, one or two at a time, until they are soft and hot. Keep them warm, wrapped in a clean dish towel.

9.   When ready to serve the fish tacos, remove the watermelon salsa and lettuce from the refrigerator. Drain any excess juice from the watermelon salsa and toss the juice with the lettuce.

10. Taste the salsa and adjust the seasonings. Toss the lettuce with the fruit juices to coat.

11. To assemble the taco, take a warm tortilla, line with lettuce, top with 1-2 pieces of fish, sprinkle the salsa on top along with some queso fresco, sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve while still hot.

Yield: about 12 tacos

TIPs from the Test Kitchen:

Why freeze the fish before frying?

-  Once you have breaded the fish, shouldn’t it be ready to fry? It can be fried then, but it’s best to wait a few minutes.   The resting gives the coating time to really adhere to the fish, which means it won’t come off or stick to the pan while cooking. It just provides a little extra insurance that your fish will turn out crispy, golden brown, and delicious. Isn’t that what we want?

-  You can apply this technique to anything that is breaded and fried. Let it rest, either on the counter or in the freezer for up to 30 minutes. Watch what happens while it is resting. The flour becomes less visible and becomes absorbed by the liquid, which results in a super crispy crust, which is so worth the wait.

How do you keep your fish warm but not soggy?

-   pan fried fish will keep in the oven on a low temp (200°F-250°F)

-   do not cover it – if you put foil over it the crisp coating on the outside can turn soggy

-   it will be fine for a little while – while you are warming the tortillas

Tortilla Tips:

-   Make sure you warm the tortillas on a grill or griddle

-   Corn tortillas are much different than flour and need to be warmed on the stove top before eating

-   They will fall apart and make a mess if warmed in the microwave

-   They are made with corn and no flour so they don’t have the elasticity of the gluten from the flour

12:43 PM

I'm parched!

It's warming up outside which means we will need to quench our thirst more often.  What comes to mind when you think of the absolute best summertime drink? 

Hot Cocoa?  Delicious, but may not have that cooling effect you're needing. 

Water?  That's an excellent choice to keep our bodies hydrated, but what if you're wanting something with a little more pizzazz? 

We have just the thing that will not only satisfy your thirst but will tantalize your taste buds.....good 'ol lemonade!

A "favorite" of our young chefs combines the sweet and tangy flavors of not just one, but two delicious fruity flavors making this drink one you will want to keep on hand!  The simplicity of the ingredients in our YCA Strawberry Lemonade also makes this a wonderful addition to young entrepreneurs setting up a lemonade stand this Summer! 


Young Chefs Academy Strawberry Lemonade


¾ cup lemon juice
3 cups water
5 oz. frozen strawberries, pureed
Up to 1 cup sugar
Fresh strawberries and/or lemon slices for garnish


Measuring cups
Citrus reamer
Wooden spoon
Ice cubes


  1. Combine lemon juice, water, and ¾ of the strawberry puree in a pitcher. 
  2. Add sugar until you have reached the desired tartness/sweetness. 
  3. Add strawberry puree until the strawberry/lemon taste balance is about equal. 
  4. Garnish with fresh strawberries or lemon slices and serve over ice.  Makes 3 cups

Drink, Enjoy and Stay Cool!

8:36 PM

It's Easy As Pie to "Be A Good Cookie!"


Who doesn't just love a great bake sale?  Whether it's classes, camps or workshops at Young Chefs Academy, our students' eyes light up when they know they're going to be digging in and creating some type of sweet confection.  This month, we have been touched to witness another passion in our young chefs' hearts - helping other kids.

During the entire month of May, our Young Chefs Academy Chefs Club Members have been baking away for a great cause-Cookies for Kids' Cancer!  Each YCA location has been hosting bake sales to raise awareness and much needed funds for pediatric cancer research.  Young Chefs Academy has teamed up again with Cookies For Kids' Cancer, but this time all monies received during May will be matched dollar-for-dollar due to the generosity of a special donor!  That's double the reason to jump aboard this fun and worthy cause!

"It's very powerful to see when not only our YCA franchise owners enthusiastically jump in; but for our Young Chefs' kiddos to take ownership and forge the way for this cause that is near and dear to our hearts...well, it's just humbling and heartwarming," says Shelly Phipps, YCA Marketing Director.  If you want to be a part of this worthwhile movement happening across the country, there's still time to take part and "Be A Good Cookie!"  Visit our Bake Sale page at to view dates/times for upcoming bake sales or to simply donate.  Please come by and treat yourself to a cookie or two, all for a great cause!

Now, we have a special treat for you  -

You might recognize Emma & Hannah, our own in-house bake sale enthusiasts and the test kitchen young chefs, when they introduced earlier this month the Young Chefs Academy partnership with Cookies for Kids' Cancer (CLICK HERE for Bake Sale Video with Emma & Hannah).  Not only do they help out at our corporate headquarters testing recipes, but they have their own secret talent and passion.... pies!  They began perfecting and selling their own pies at an early age and agreed to share one of their favorites with you!


Emma & Hannah's Grated Apple Pie)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 cups peeled, grated apples
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional topping)
  • Refrigerated pie crust, pre-made

  • Pie Pan
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Grater
  • Safety knives
  • Spoon

1)  Preheat Oven to 400° F. 
2)  To form the pie crust:  Roll dough out slightly larger (about 1/2" thick) than your pie pan and then carefully set it into the pan, rolling the edges under and pinching to form the pie edge.  Using a fork, make several holes in the bottom of the crust to prevent bubbling during baking. 
3)  Mix all ingredients together (except for the pecans) and pour into crust.
4)  Sprinkle pecans over the top.
5)  Bake for 10 minutes at 400° F.
6)  Rotate the pan, then bake at 350° F for 50 minutes.
7)  Let cool and serve.

8:52 AM

Dublin Coddle...the Ultimate Comfort Food for St. Patrick's Day!

Laughter is brightest where food is best” (Irish proverb)…and we couldn’t agree more. 

One thing we’re looking forward to in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is sharing delicious, comforting foods with family and friends that originate from this beautiful, lush country.  What will be on the menu?  The choice was difficult to make so we thought we’d go with a less obvious choice for our celebration meal.  This year, we selected a traditional Dublin favorite as the highlight, Dublin Coddle.


This dish dates back to the 1700s, but you won’t find it on many menus outside of Dublin.  This warm, comforting stew is a super easy dish to prepare….just prep, layer and leave it be for at least an hour and a half!  Now you can focus on some of the accompanying recipes, like warm Irish soda bread and heavenly bread pudding.

“Sláinte!” (Health!/Cheers!)



  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 slices pre-cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 pound pre-cooked port link sausage, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced (1/4 inch)
  • Fresh herb bundle of bay leaf and thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 cups apple cider OR chicken/beef stock



  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife
  • Large Pot
  • Skillet
  • Kitchen twine



  1. In a skillet with 1 Tbsp. butter, soften onion and garlic over medium-low heat.  Place in large pot.  Add bacon, sausage, potatoes, and carrots.
  2. Bury the bundle of fresh herbs in the middle of the mixture.  Sprinkle with pepper and salt.  Cover with cider. 
  3. Cook covered, 1½ hours over medium-low heat; do not boil.  Remove herb bundle. 


YieldMakes 6, 1 cup servings.

* Tip: Coddle is ALWAYS best eaten the day after it is prepared.


Irish Kitchen Prayer: 

Bless us with good food,

The gift of gab and hearty laughter. 

May the Love and Joy we share

be with us ever after.


4:25 PM

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!

11:30 AM

"Let The Good Times Roll" with YCA's Bake For Family Fun Month!

mardi gras

When you think of Mardi Gras, what comes to mind? 

      Jazz and a variety of other lively music on every street corner?   

      Bright colors of green, gold and purple?  

      Parades filled with beautifully designed floats and sequined masks? 

But we certainly can't forget the incredible tastes and aromas associated with this lively event! 

While New Orleans boasts some of the most delicious dishes such as the colorful King Cake, sweet Beignets, savory Jambalaya, Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice, Muffulettas and so much more, there’s one sweet treat we want to share for our last week of Bake For Family Fun recipes….the Praline


These famous confections are among our favorite New Orleans food traditions.  While the origin of the praline most likely originated in France, the confection made its way to the states as French immigrants began to make their roots in Louisiana.  The almonds typically found in pralines were replaced with the Southern native pecan.

Our Young Chefs® created an easy, super-fast, delicious pecan-version of this sweet confection.  Did we say “super-fast?”  This recipe takes literally less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish!  Wanna test it…Let's go and Laissez les bons temps rouler (~ Let the Good Times Roll!)


Microwave Pralines


  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine plus extra to grease wax paper
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves



  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Waxed paper

  1. Spread extra margarine on large sheet of waxed paper.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar, cream, salt, 2 Tbsp. margarine, and pecans.  Microwave 7-9 minutes on high, stirring once halfway though.  Let rest 1 minute.  CAUTION:  Praline mixture is very hot!
  3. Stir in vanilla and continue to stir 3 more minutes.  Drop by teaspoonful onto greased waxed paper.  (If mixture is runny, allow to cool 30 seconds more and try again.)

4:22 PM

Reliving My Biggest Middle School Nightmare During This Year's IFA Convention

by Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie Burleson

It happened during the International Franchise Association (IFA) Annual Convention earlier this month.  More about my middle school flashback in a bit.  The IFA Convention is where over 4000 franchise industry professionals convene to network, brainstorm, share best practices, with one common goal ~ protecting, enhancing and supporting franchising.


This year, I was honored to be invited to facilitate during the IFA’s Business Solutions Roundtables.  These highly attended sessions are just one example of the many ways the IFA fosters productive discussions amongst the convention attendees.  My topic was ‘Recruiting the best team members for start-up franchisors.’ ~ A subject near and dear to my heart.

It was here…

…as the roundtable sessions were about to begin… I’m waiting for the doors to open and attendees to flood the room, that I was transported back to middle school gym class.   The teacher’s announcing “We’re picking teams!!!! …There I sat at my round table thinking, ‘will anyone pick me?’  My neighboring facilitator and I shared a laugh as we conspired to put our tables together if we ended up alone, all only long enough to see folks scrambling to find a spot (whew) at our tables.  As facilitator, I did my best to keep the discussions on topic, allowing everyone a chance to talk.  As is the case in any one of the many meetings and sessions that take place over the course of an IFA convention, the experience was enlightening and thought provoking.



NEWS FLASH: ALL FRANCHISE COMPANIES ARE CREATED EQUAL.  What’s that you say ~ Pizza, donuts, window washing, children’s cooking schools?  Yes – when it comes to the topic of Recruiting the Right Team for your Start-Up Franchise Company.

Several franchise concepts were represented and many ideas shared during my roundtable discussions, from using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, to hiring future leaders to meet budget restraints.  However, one key take-away emerged that was met with widespread agreement, and I believe worthy of noting.

Here it is.


Before you do anything, do this first:

Define your Company Culture.

Company Culture ~ a buzz word you hear a lot these days; but for good reason.  Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, beliefs and behaviors that will define how a company operates.  It can be from how employees dress, act or perform their jobs, all the way to a formally written code of values.  Culture can evolve over time, depending on the cumulative traits of the employees; in other words, pay close attention to whom you hire because each person that does not fit your culture, will affect it.

Fact: You can’t change people’s “cultural behavior”.  So, by defining the key cultural attributes important to your company before you hire, it enables you to recruit for not only skill set but also for a person’s “culture”.  By doing so, you’re increasing your odds of maintaining the desired culture as the company grows.

Why this is important for a franchise company: Corporate culture will permeate through to your franchisees and on to their teams.

Important:  Sales people are members of your TEAM, whether they’re on salary or contract or brokers.   If I could impart just one piece of advice to start up franchisors, this would be it: 

Only work with sales people that exemplify your company culture.

Your sales team is tasked with an important role.  They are matchmakers ~ who evaluate the traits and passions of a prospective franchise, looking for a perfect match for your company.  Salespeople are often the first point of contact, therefore make the first impression for your company.  Franchise sales experts often operate by their own “tried and true” method.  This method is their culture; and remember, you can’t change that.  The franchisor must be able to count on them to project trust, honesty and confidence when speaking to prospects.  New franchise owners should come into a franchise system with no preconceived notions or false perceptions ~ to ensure a stronger, more stable franchisor/franchisee relationship.

FACT: NOT ALL SALESPEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUALLY.  So, ask your peers, ask your mentors, ask fellow franchisors, ask everyone you meet through the IFA.  The right sales people are out there; but you must do your research to find the right fit for your company.

All of this from one round table session!  If you are serious about franchising, The IFA Annual Convention is the place to be.  Franchising, an American invention, is a strong business model when responsibly operated.  I will add, getting the right team on board, by aligning your culture with your team’s, is key to the company’s strength.

P.S. Become a member of the IFA.

P.P.S. Become an active member of the IFA, middle school nightmares and all ~ it’s an investment you won’t regret.

9:17 AM

Break Out The Waffle Iron In Honor Of National Hot Breakfast Month!


There’s nothing better than waking up after a great night’s sleep to the sounds and sweet smells of breakfast cooking in the other room….Ahhhhhh…..

Anthony Bourdain couldn’t have said it any better – “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?” 

In honor of National Hot Breakfast Month, toss the frozen toaster options back in the freezer and make something delectable for friends and family that will have their mouth watering in anticipation!  Our Young Chefs tested this delicious twist on your ordinary waffles….Orange Waffles with Orange Maple Syrup ~ sweet Belgian waffles with a hint of tangy citrus.  All we can say is D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.  (and super easy!)!

Simply serve these up with a few orange slices on the side and your favorite protein (we’re thinking bacon…who doesn’t like bacon?).  But be careful!  You may become the family’s sole designated breakfast chef!

Happy #BakeForFamilyFunMonth!

Orange Waffles with Orange Maple Syrup


For the waffles:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 medium oranges, zest and juice
  • Club soda
For the syrup:
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup orange juice


  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Spoon or whisk
  • Microplane
  • Waffle iron
  • Plate
  • Small saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups


  1. Preheat the waffle iron. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to just combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and melted butter together. Fold into the dry ingredients until the flour is just moistened.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, add the zest and juice of both oranges. Add enough club soda to make 1 ¼ cups of liquid. Add this to the flour mixture and fold in until it is just combined. Set aside and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Cook the waffles in the waffle iron until they are crisp and golden brown. Keep warm while cooking the rest of the waffle batter. Serve with the orange maple syrup.
  6. For the syrup:  In a small sauce pan, add the maple syrup and orange juice. Heat to a simmer until the syrup is warm and combined with the orange juice.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve while still warm with the orange waffles.

about 6 servings

Note: if desired, ¾ cup toasted, chopped pecans can be added to the batter. Add the pecans in with the dry ingredients.

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