About Us

In 2006, Sprouts was launched in the Bay Area with the mission to teach children from all socioeconomic, physical and mental health backgrounds the importance of healthy, nutritional foods through hands-on cooking with REAL chefs with REAL ingredients in REAL restaurants. In 2009, it was formally converted into an official 501c3, thanks to the encouragement of Alice Waters, a member of Sprouts’ advisory board.

We achieve our mission through 5 programs:

1) Sprouts’ CIT program: a 6-month culinary, vocational training for at-risk youth ages 16-24 which provides them with the skill set needed to obtain and maintain a job in the modern restaurant industry.

2) Subsidized, in-restaurant cooking classes and camps for diverse Bay-Area children, ages 7-12 years old.

3) Subsidized, after school cooking classes at public and Title 1 schools in the Bay Area that teach nutritional basics, sugar awareness, and cooking skills to diverse youth.

4) Free cooking classes at Girls Inc, our official Bay-Area nonprofit partner.

5) Free and subsidized cooking classes for youth with emotional and physical disabilities, in partnership with community organizations such as CoachArt and Phillips Academy

OUR STORY

Growing up, my dad taught me that food could heal. My mother showed me that food had soul. For me, food was FUN – a social, creative experience.

– Karen Rogers

The stats confirm what we see every day on the streets: childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. We have all heard this before: the extra pounds weighing down our youth are leading to health, social and psychological issues.

Growing up, my father told me countless stories of his patients that suffered from poor eating habits. He taught me that food could heal. My mom taught me that food had soul. Raised on a farm, she ground wheat to make us bread and jammed fruits from her garden.

For me, food was FUN. In preschool, I planted a pumpkin patch. In elementary school, I baked home-made pies with friends. In high school, I hosted ‘rainbow’ dinners with colorful produce. Cooking with real foods was a social, creative experience.

In college, however, I realized that the majority of us never learned HOW to eat well, or WHY real food is so important. Cooking was intimidating. And I wanted to change that.

So I am.

One kid at a time, class by class, I am thrilled to be bringing the health, soul, and FUN back in good food.

Background

OUR MISSION

Since 2006, Sprouts has been breathing the fun back into good food! We bring together Bay Area youth from all backgrounds so that they might cook with real chefs right inside real restaurants using real ingredients. Here at Sprouts, we are showing our youth, hands-on, what real food is about. We are empowering them to lead healthier lives!

Here at Sprouts, we strive to teach children, hands-on, that healthy, nutritional eating is fun by involving them in the entire process, from planting the seed, to harvesting, to cooking with real chefs, to cleaning, to eating a delicious meal. Our scholarship program allows us to include kids from all backgrounds, no matter their financial standing! We are thrilled to have the support of Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver`s team in London. We are also partnered with Girls Inc, Seneca Center, and the Oakland, SF, and Berkeley Unified School Districts.

We have our own organic garden where the children harvest and cook with produce that they planted themselves. We even grocery shop with the children to teach them about budgeting and reading labels. We drive the concept of serving and cooking for others by organizing dinners and benefits where the children cook for family and friends. We keep cooking REAL — the children cook, side-by-side, with real chefs from restaurants like Chez Panisse and Pizzaiolo, Tartine, and Boulevard. The kids consider these chefs culinary heroes; and what better role model than someone who believes so strongly in good food that they have made it their profession.

-Karen Rogers

OUR TEAM

Karen Rogers
Founder and Director

Favorite Foods: I love fresh fruits and vegetables. Pickled, sautéed, boiled, chopped, raw, cooked —there is no form that I don’t enjoy. And anything with a Moroccan twist.

Dayton Pickering
Team Director
Favorite Foods: Anything having to do with breakfast. I love all things egg- eggs benedict, veggie-stuffed quiche, runny yolks on avocado toast. I am a sucker for a good egg dish, and an advocate for a healthy and hearty breakfast. As Ron Swanson once declared, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” I am happily testing that theory personally.
Sophia Riemer
After School Manager

Favorite Foods: Foods that remind me of my family like my mother’s cajun shrimp, my dad’s spaghetti and meatballs, and my grandmother’s matzo ball soup.

Lucy Hunt
Programming Coordinator

Favorite Foods: I love the flavors of Asian Cuisine, especially Vietnamese, Japanese and Thai – I can never say no to pho, sushi or Thai curry! As an avid fan of traditional and aeroponic gardening, I love how much better food is when you grow it yourself. Even something as basic as butter lettuce can be incredibly flavorful when it’s truly fresh and you know exactly where it came from.

Melody Ma
Americorps Vista- CIT Manager

Favorite Foods: Every weekend, I love going to the farmers’ market to explore and cook with seasonal fruits and veggies – Tuscan kale and purple cauliflower are delicious in the wintertime, and I can’t wait for heirloom tomatoes and berries in the summer. I also love experiencing new cuisines, restaurants, and flavor-packed bites, and brunch is a must.

Hannah Trumbo
Direct Impact Fellow

Favorite Foods: I am a vegetarian, so I’m always thinking of ways to make inventive vegetable-based recipes, especially with a lot of spice! Somehow, I find myself enjoying a flaky, buttery croissant once in a while – my year studying and teaching in Paris must have influenced that food craving!

Katie Jang
Community Representative Intern

Favorite Foods: Maryland blue crab sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. I love getting together with my family during the summer when crabs are in season and having a giant feast. It’s a Baltimore staple! I also love anything sweet. Recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate in-season fruit like strawberries and raspberries when I bake.

Lisanne van Engelen
Website Maintenance Intern

Favorite Foods: My favorite dish to make is stuffed peppers! The sweet bell peppers go really well with the ground turkey, garlic, feta cheese, and rice. I also really love my dad’s numerous pasta recipes (especially with this tangy tomato sauce that he makes), and my grandma’s onion and leek soup!

Nidhi Chandra
Programming Assistant Intern-Special Needs Focus

Favorite Foods: I absolutely adore soups! My favorite dish to prepare at home is a hearty lentil vegetable soup packed with delicious veggies like green beans, potatoes, and corn. My favorite part of the dish, however, has to be the parmesan cheese rind I add into the soup while its simmering, so that I get these gooey bits in each bite! YUM!

Katie Bem
Website Maintenance Intern

Favorite Foods: I am all about balance! As a baker, I will always argue that no meal is complete without a little bit of dessert – coffee cake, anyone!? But, you can always find me chopping up whatever fresh produce is in season, from squash to corn, tomatoes to swiss chard, I just can’t get enough. And if possible, all of those beautiful veggies will be accompanied by a warm, cheesy bowl of baked ziti!

Katarina Krska
Accounting Intern

Favorite foods: From European pastries to dishes from my home country like kale and potato soup, fruit filled dumplings or freshly baked bread… the list of my favorites is very long. Good thing cooking and baking is a passion of mine. But if I had to pick just one food, then raspberries – straight from the garden. Or better yet – picked up while hiking in the mountains!

Hai-Chau
Accounting Intern

Favorite foods: I have an undying love for seafood. Some foods I enjoy from time to time are sake and butter marinated miso clams. When they are in season, Kumamoto oysters with a mignonette sauce and lemon are an absolute must have at any summer BBQ. As a great person once said, “if it looks good, try it.” 

Eric Lee
Accounting Intern

Favorite Foods: I love fresh fruit from farmer markets. Beyond that, I also really enjoy experiencing new cuisines. There is no better meal than a nice omelette for brunch.

OUR CULINARY HERO

Jamie Oliver
English chef & restaurateur known for his television shows, cookbooks and global campaign for better food education.

Jamie-Oliver-at-Chatelaine

SPROUTS HONORARY ADVISOR

Alice Waters
Chez Panisse Foundation and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant, founder of The Edible Schoolyard

OUR BOARD OF ADVISORS

Andrew Greene
Executive Chef of Troya
Jessica Sullivan
Executive Pastry Chef of Delfina
Chef Payton Paleaz
of Food Network and Chez Pay Catering
Matt Paine
Executive Chef of Wingtip
Ryan Cole
of Stones’ Throw
Charlie Hallowell
Owner of Pizzaiolo, Penrose, Chef at Chez Panisse
Lendri Purcell
Director of Jonas Family Fund
Jerry Ostrander
Financial Advisor of Edward Jones
Ben Eichorn
Edible Schoolyard and Grow Your Own Lunch
Ryan Lowther
Lawyer at Farrela Braun + Martel Law Firm
Nick Heustis
Regional Marketing Director of Whole Foods Market
Marie Banis
Owner of Berkeley Certified Kitchens
Georgia Zhang
Data Analyst at LinkedIn
Maricel Mojares- Moore
 

WHAT OTHERS SAY

  • “Sprouts’ coaching skills and outreach has significantly increased the employment and job retention rate of our students.”

    Life Learning Academy
  • “My 9 year-old daughter has participated in several sprouts club sessions and a full week of camp last summer. She loved her experience and it has been a catalyst for her to take a more and more active role in the kitchen at home!”

    Pamela
    Parent of aspiring Sprouts Chef
  • Giant thanks to you and your amazing team there at Sprouts. Bluma has not stopped raving about Sprouts since she came home. We feel very lucky that she got to spend the week learning with you all. And hope that she will have many more experiences with you all in the future. Thanks again.

    Michael
    A Sprouts parent
  • It’s a really fun experience when you have the power to do your own thing. After camp I went home and made my own salad– I liked the one that Chef Russell made at La Fitte did and so I made the green bean salad too.

    Natalya Mril, 9
  • Sprouts’ programs have a huge sense of reality because you really cook in restaurants hands-on with chefs. I feel really good about it because I know the ingredients I am using are a good quality. The slogan: ‘Learning what good food is about’ is really true.

    Julia Sweeney, 13
  • Gianna really enjoyed Sprouts this summer. I think it was fun for her to be in San Francisco and explore new neighborhoods and kitchens. When we drove home on Friday evening she insisted I pass by Andronico’s and buy a whole chicken…which she parted out beautifully the following evening for dinner! I have a real sous chef at home now! Thanks for a great experience.

    Andrea
    An appreciative Sprouts mom
  • Thank you so much to you and your team! Pria returned home from camp each night Inspired. She’s been cooking ever since, and teaching me as well! Last night she made fresh pasta with feta and basil. No doubt she will want to return next year. Thank you again for a top-notch, creative, and well-run camp.

    Rebecca
    An appreciative Sprouts mom
  • Sprouts is my favorite program ever because it combines all of my love of food and cooking with all my ideals about how things should be prepared. At Sprouts, you not only learn new techniques and recipes but you get the opportunity to practice them with the chefs who are teaching you!

    Julia
    An aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • We loved going to Lasalle, France with Sprouts and living with local people, going to school with kids our age, eating their local food and learning about their culture.

    The Rau Family
  • Sprouts is a unique cooking club for kids, which offers a first-class educational opportunity for culinary-minded children, who get to learn from some of the Bay Area’s best chefs–and be inspired by them. It’s like the Harvard of kids cooking clubs–a premier educational after-school learning opportunity that will develop the palettes and culinary minds of the lucky kids who attend.

    Amy Murray
    Owner and Head Chef, Venus Restaurant and Revival Restaurant
  • I love Sprouts because you are treated like any other chef in the kitchen, and you learn so many different and amazing skills. There are way too many favorite memories but one of the best was going on the culinary immersion to France in 2009. My favorite classes are the baking and dessert ones but the others are just as much fun too. Sprouts is amazing and I will never forget the experiences that I had with all the awesome chefs!!!

    Madeline
    An aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • I’ve been cooking since I was 7 or 8, but I’m learning more from one week with these chefs than all those years with my family.

    Elazar Sontag
    13, an aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • He really enjoys sharing stories about his experience with family and friends.  After the last day of his week 8 class, he wanted to stay in the city with me to have dinner to just chat about food.  I splurged and took him to Boulevard knowing that he had a class there earlier in the Spring.  We were having a great time and getting ready to head out after dinner when the server came to me holding the chef’s iPhone.  She asked if I recognized someone in the picture as she showed me a picture the chef had taken of Clark that weekend in the Spring.  Clark thought that was just the coolest thing.  After that fun conversation, the server took Clark back to watch the line cook.  It really was a great day.

    Vince Gamick
    Parent of aspiring Sprouts chef
  • Sprouts stands out for allowing children into the kitchens of working, professional chefs.

    The New York Times

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