This week on All in the Industry, host Shari Bayer is on the line with Cricket Azima. Cricket Azima is a dynamic professional chef who specializes in cooking for and with children. Her children’s cookbook, Everybody Eats Lunch, was published by Glitterati Inc., in May, 2008. She works with a variety of food companies offering a range of services. These include spokesperson, recipe development and testing, freelance writing, teaching, family outreach, blogging (as part of the Cooking Light Blogger’s Community), creating webisodes (from soup to nuts), special events, and consulting. She has worked with General Mills (Betty Crocker and Bisquick), iVillage, Fruit Simple, Head Chefs, and Kellogg’s. Additionally, Cricket has consulted for a number of kids’ foods brands.

Since 1999, Cricket has been teaching cooking classes to children of all ages at various locations in New York City, including schools, Whole Foods Market, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, City Treehouse, Girl Scout groups, as well as privately-held classes. Cricket has developed curricula for multiple schools and after-school programs. As an instructor, Cricket is one-of-a-kind. She strives to teach more than a recipe or basic cooking techniques, with a teaching philosophy that is based on the educational benefits of cooking. Cricket believes that kids can learn about more than just food while in the kitchen classroom, whether that’s history, geography, math, reading, social studies, nutrition, science, foreign language, or art.

Cricket developed her teaching philosophy while pursuing her master’s degree in Food Studies and Food Management at New York University (NYU). Her thesis, which focused on the benefits of teaching cooking to children, led her to launch The Creative Kitchen in 2003. Her method of cooking instruction and food education is designed to inspire children to learn and express themselves creatively in the kitchen, while reinforcing traditional learning disciplines.

The Creative Kitchen founded the Kids Food Festival, a celebration to educate children on how to make balanced food choices. The events serve as efforts to prevent childhood obesity through fun programming and entertainment for families. The Kids Food Festival partners with the James Beard Foundation.

Everybody Can Cook is a complete cooking curriculum that Cricket masterminded, to supplement the lessons of teachers of special needs children in a fun, engaging way. The program includes recipes, lesson plans, adaptations for various abilities, teacher and parent components, food ordering system, classroom cooking kits, and much more.

Cricket acted as a contributor to iVillage, an online content driven community for women, and ArchetypeMe, featuring family-friendly recipes. She advised as the Family and Children’s Editor for The Nibble, an online magazine about specialty foods. She served as the Food Editor of KIWI Magazine, a family magazine focused on healthy and organic living. She was also the Director of Kids’ Programs for Kidfresh, an innovative company in New York City offering all natural, freshly prepared foods for kids.

Cricket is a graduate of Boston University, NYU, and Peter Kump’s New York Culinary School (now, The Institute of Culinary Education). Following graduation, she served as a professor of food studies and an academic advisor at NYU.