Meet Richmond, Va., Young Chefs Franchise Owner Kristen Braia

More than a decade in, innovator says that the brand continues to have appeal thanks to large and growing platform of engagement opportunities

Going from nurse to stay-at-home Mom to entrepreneur and business owner is a lot to pack into one lifetime, and Kristen Braia can check off every one of those boxes. She also can look back on more than 10 years of success as a Young Chefs Academy kids cooking school franchise owner in Richmond, VA, and here takes a look at what the journey has been like.

When did you open up your Young Chefs Academy franchise?

We opened our doors in October 2006. Before that I was a stay-at-home Mom for seven years and had also worked as a nurse. I had learned a lot about children and cooking, and this concept fit in and made sense with what I wanted to do. I had never owned a business before, so I just jumped in.

How has your business evolved over time?

We’ve certainly gotten bigger in terms of our customer base, and watching our corporate team grow and develop as well has been very good to see. I have been able to grow my business alongside my family and still have the ability to be that Mom who’s there for her kids when they need me.

“I have grown so much personally over the last 16 years as a business owner and a person," says Kristen Braia. "Owning a Young Chefs Academy is more than owning a business. Our customers become like family and we have a real opportunity to positively impact the community. YCA has allowed me the flexibility to be present for my family while working. I have watched the Young Chefs Academy Corporate team work hard to strengthen the brand. Our curriculum is top notch. I believe I am one of the few who can say they love what they do; it (Young Chefs Academy) is just a part of me now. When it was time for me to take on another venture, I knew it would be another Young Chefs Academy. It was really a combination of three things that drove me to do this; seeing the difference our programming makes in the lives of children and families, how in demand our program offerings are and the strong corporate team.”

Kristen Braia
Richmond, VA & Charleston, SC

Are you surprised by growing awareness for the brand?

Not really, I love the trend toward healthier eating, and we can incorporate a lot of healthy habits into what we do here. Our curriculum talks about growing food, and the concept of a healthy relationship with food, which is wonderful.

What advice do you have for new franchise owners?

You have to love children and cooking. That’s what this is all about. It’s also a business; you have to work at it. If you think you can just buy it and start making money, you’ll quickly learn that it doesn’t work that way. You have to put in the effort to see results.

It’s also good to become a community fixture. We have parties, classes and summer camps, and we also get involved with activities outside our doors, such as work with our local children’s services agencies.

What’s your favorite thing about being a Young Chefs Academy franchise owner?

I love working with the kids! I still teach classes, and get into the kitchen, because I love that part of it. I want to stay in touch with the kids and their parents. If you get too hands off, I think that can be detrimental. Stay in touch with every aspect of your business.

Through classes, workshops and camps, Young Chefs Academy takes kids into the kitchen and teaches them not just how to cook, but also how to work independently and as a team to master new skills. A Young Chefs Academy franchise is a fun, scalable and profitable business providing a rewarding enrichment opportunity that kids and parents love.

Learn more about the Young Chefs Academy franchise opportunity

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Young Chefs Academy Investment


Highest Unit Gross Sales


Average Unit Gross Sales

*Based on total gross sales for Young Chefs Academy in the highest and average units for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2022 as per the 2023 FDD.  See Item 19 of the Young Chefs Academy 2023 FDD.
A new franchisee's results may differ from the represented performance.  There is no assurance that you will do as well and you must accept that risk.  This offering is made by prospectus only.

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Young Chefs Academy Code of Values

Code of Values


We are committed to treating every person how they would want to be treated. We are committed to being incredibly kind in everything we do.


We believe that every person is right from their own perspective and deserves empathy.


Children are our focus. We are committed to making a positive lasting influence on the children we serve.


We operate above the line. We do the right thing whether or not someone is watching and whether or not it is easy.


Every business action we take is driven by our enthusiasm and strong sense of purpose for the joy and value we are bringing to our customers' lives.

Extraordinary Experience

We strive to provide an extraordinary experience from every touchpoint.

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