Today, we celebrated our daughter’s 4th birthday at The Healthy Dish. It was a fantastic time and the kids really enjoyed it. My daughter had chosen what I thought was a super-cool theme of Dinosaurs and Fossils. After loading our cart at Party City with dino-themed items, and thankfully just before paying, she informed me that she actually wanted a Dinosaur-Fairy theme. That was going to be too hard to explain to my logical friends, so we re-entered negotiations.
We shook hands on The Princess and the Frog.
I met with the Healthy Dish Cooking Team: Luis, Herlien and Paulina Andrade to discuss the details. They hadn’t ever done a cooking party before. They offer weekly kids cooking classes where children come in twice a week for two hours, wear aprons and chef hats, cook and maintain their own recipe binders. This party business was a new service and I agreed to be their guinea pig. All experiments should end so well-
I explained that we wanted to do a Princess and the Frog themed party and that we had a kids cookbook with New Orleans-inspired recipes. We looked through the book together and settled on cute sandwich cut-outs, mint juleps to drink and froggy cupcakes. Herlien had some ideas about how to make the recipes more fun- instead of PB&J blossom cut-outs, the kids used turkey and cheese and colored cream cheese; instead of mint lemon juleps, the kids made a similar drink but using strawberries and limes-
They provided me with printouts of the recipes we selected to use as favors for the gift bags- We rolled them like scrolls and put them into the brown paper bags (yes, I used brown paper bags, why not? They are recyclable!)
We bought those colorful kid aprons at the Hobby Lobby for a few bucks each and we found paper chef hats by the dozen through the Oriental Trading Company. They also have aprons by the dozen for cheaper than the Hobby Lobby- but they were out of stock when we needed them. You can have The Healthy Dish provide aprons and hats but that is factored into the party cost.
We all showed up an hour early and decorated the room. You’ll notice that the room appears small in the photos. Healthy Dish can accomodate up to 12 children at a time, but no more. This facility is made for cozy parties. The good thing is that the children spend most of their time at the tables unless they are washing their hands between tasks, so the limited floor space is not an issue when they are all focused on squeezing cream cheese from a tube, cutting a strawberry, or cutting out shapes.
Once, the kids showed up, the party started! It was a different kind of party so it took about 20 minutes for the 10 kids between the ages of 2 and 5 to adjust to the surroundings. ( Because space is limited, The Healthy Dish asks that parents drop off their children. The three instructors and a few parents stay to supervise and guide.) Once the kids started mixing the batter, breaking eggs and cutting out bread shapes, their focus was on!
First, the kids prepared the batter for the froggy cupcakes that needed to bake while we made our tea sandwiches:
Then, the kids started to assemble their sandwiches. They used cookie cutters to cut shapes in cheese slices. Then, they cut shapes from the bread and turkey.
Um, short note on Cookie Cutter Safety here. I noticed my daughter’s cupcake-shaped perforations weren’t as deep as they could be in her slices of white bread, so I gave her cookie cutter a good “THWAP!” to aid the bread incision. Don’t do that. The blood-curdling scream she emitted informed us all that I had helped her cut more than just the bread. I had also managed to slice through her perfect porcelain flesh. I am happy to report that, although the facility is small, the aisles are wide enough to enable a birthday toddler to flail up and down them, screaming and crying that her mother had just maimed her at her own birthday party. So-in short, be careful with those things. Anyway, we were able to finally stop the bleeding, and we returned to assembling our sandwiches….
Here, the kids are mixing small bags filled with cream cheese and food-coloring to decorate their sandwiches.
The next culinary task was to make a twist on the Mint Juleps in our Princess Tiana Cookbook. They were delicious! Strawberries, lime, ginger ale, purified water, sugar and mint! mmmmmmmmmm!
Finally, we decorated our cupcakes! The kids mixed the food coloring and frosting together in the little bags, snipped the ends and made their little frogs with gummy candies.
At the end of the party, we brought out a small cake I baked the night before and lit the little candles- We sang the Happy Birthday Song to my little girl and then handed out party favors to guests as their parents came to pick them up. This was a wonderful party-It’s a party I’d do again in a heartbeat.
The only other learning point I can pass on from this experience is to pay attention to the signage throughout the kitchen. Underneath Herlien’s workstation were two plastic bins, one labeled “Arroz” and the other “Beans”. I’m not sure why I thought they may have actually meant “Trash”, but I routinely threw away things into the “Beans” bin throughout the party. Toward the end of the party, Luis sweetly informed me that I had been throwing away popped balloons and soppy paper-towels into their bean reserve. I was, like, “You mean that the bin labeled “BEANS” really contains beans?” Shocking. I know. Turns out they were serious when they wrote that on the bin.
So, if after reading this, you think you might be in the market to do your child’s next birthday party at The Healthy Dish, here are a few pieces of advice I can offer:
1) This facility and service is best for kids four and older.
2) Three year olds need a lot more help (one instructor for 5 four-year olds today versus one instructor for 2 three-year olds).
3) I don’t recommend bringing two-year olds.
4) The facility is small so limit kids to 12 and the number of parents present to 3 (including parents of the birthday girl or boy).
5) Don’t “THWAP” any cookie cutters.
6) Don’t throw trash in their bean bin.
If you want to learn more, I encourage you to call Luis and Herlien. They are wonderful to work with! They are working on several menu options for people to choose a meal item, drink and dessert for the kids to make at a set price. I believe they are very reasonable. Their contact information is here:
And you can find the previous Critters and Crayons post about The Healthy Dish at the following link:
This was a grand experience. It’s one my daughter won’t forget- and we are so thrilled that The Healthy Dish put on such a great day for us and our guests! Happy Partying!