Extra week off school turns into online culinary classes for kids 

Calgary-based cookbook author and food writer Julie Van Rosendaal decided to help thousands of kids to learn how to cook and bake with their extra week off from school.

Julie Van Rosendaal is teaching the free online cooking classes all week

Julie Van Rosendaal pours syrup over her cinnamon sticky biscuits, which she made with hundreds of kids online Tuesday morning. (Submitted by Julie Van Rosendaal)

Hundreds of Alberta students who have an extra week of winter break are taking the opportunity to brush up on their culinary skills from a trained professional — and they're being joined by others from across Canada and around the world.

Julie Van Rosendaal is an expert in the kitchen. She's written cooking books, articles and talked about food for most of her life.

But teaching hundreds of kids how to cook online? That's a new one for her. 

She was cooped up in her home because of the cold temperatures when she came up with the idea: Why not offer free online classes for kids who have extra time at home?

"It turned out to be a tsunami of a response," said Van Rosendaal from the kitchen in her Calgary home. 

"I figured if there's something I can do to help, I'll do that even if it helps just a few families," she added. 

1,000 kids

Van Rosendaal posted the tweet for her first online class on Monday morning it was shared and liked hundreds of times. 

The first class filled up, and capped out at 1,000 kids. She's run three classes since. 

Paisley Wood, 10, and her seven-year-old sister Elliott proudly show off their pie which they learned to make in Julie's class on Wednesday. (Submitted by Jenn Wood)

The classes start each morning at 10 and last about 90 minutes.

Jenn Wood's kids were among those who got to learn from Van Rosendaal. She got a message from her sister telling her about the free classes.

"I was thinking, 'yes, how much is it? I'll do anything at this point,'" said Wood from her kitchen in Airdrie. 

"We've done every 'learn to draw' class, every puzzle in the house, we've done every board game, so this came at a perfect time," she said. 

Three-year-old Kaia On-Ngan shows off her blueberry biscuits. (Submitted by Bonita On-Ngan)

Her daughters, Elliott, seven, and Paisley, 10, were newbies in the kitchen before these classes, now they've made cookies and pie. 

'She had lots of fun'

"It's my first time cooking and it's been really fun, I got to open the oven today and bake different stuff," said Elliott Wood. 

Elliott's older sister, Paisley, said Van Rosendaal's online classes make it easy to follow. 

"She just takes adult recipes and breaks them down so they're so much easier for kids to learn how to do," she said. 

Bonita On-Ngan learned about the classes from a post on Instagram. 

At first, she wasn't sure how her three-year-old daughter Kaia would enjoy it, but after the first lesson their cinnamon sticky biscuits turned out great, and are all gone. 

"She was actually paying attention to the video, which I was actually surprised by," said On-Ngan. 

"She had lots of fun, she thought it was really neat to be able to see so many kids on the screen and she was scrolling through," added On-Ngan. 

Van Rosendaal said there were kids in Tuesday's class from Quadra Island, B.C., to St. John's, N.L. — and even the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

On Wednesday, she had to add an afternoon class because the morning one filled up so fast. 

The plan for the rest of the week is to hold two classes a day depending on demand.