The sweet story
of ‘Once Upon
a Bake’, cooking
classes for kids
Filip, a chef passionate about working with kids, started “Once Upon a Bake” inspired by his daughter's interest in baking and the challenges parents face with the mess and involvement of children in the kitchen. This led him to create a unique space where kids can learn and enjoy baking.
Filip already works as a private chef and has his own cake business, but this was an opportunity not to miss out on: “I always liked to work with the kids, and a couple of my friends years ago said you should be doing something with that.” But his other business kept him plenty busy, and he felt that insurance-wise, he needed to work out a few kinks before welcoming kids into the kitchen.
Parents kept saying over and over again: “Oh, my kids also love to help out in the kitchen. But you know, the mess and everything”. All of a sudden, Filip finds himself saying, “Let’s just do this”. Filip: “The seed was planted many years ago, and I was watering that for a couple of years. But as more people started to ask the question, I was like there’s definitely a market for me then. I did a bit of research. I live about 45 minutes outside of Dublin, Ireland, and I couldn’t find any nearby competition.”
The next step was clear. “I know what I’m going to do. Now, I need a logo. I asked my sister because she is a designer. After that, I'll set up an Instagram page. Put up a couple of photos, explain who I am, what I’m gonna, and what they can expect.” At that point, he didn’t have the first class scheduled yet, but it was enough to already get some feedback from the local community. Filip needed to work out the age group: “It’s starting from six, seven-ish. Up to 16 years old, whereas in reality, it was mostly till 14,” he adds. In practice, he noticed it mostly mattered if the soon-to-be chefs were already friends. In that case it didn’t matter that one was 7 and the other 9 years old.
After just a couple of classes, he found his way to Vev as his all-in-one booking and online payment system. Filip: “I was trying to keep everything organized in a book, writing down which parents had paid for their kids, and who didn’t. But then I had to stay on top of that, or kids would not show up, yet I still had to pay rent for the location. So I quickly said I’m no longer doing that myself. We’ll go with something that everybody can access online. Pay in advance, secure a spot, and see you there. And if you have any questions; here’s my phone number and the Whatsapp group.”
“We’ll go with Vev so that everybody can access it online. Pay in advance, secure a spot, and see you there ”
After four classes Filip gave himself a little bit of a break to reflect and improve the Once Upon a Bake concept. Filip: “The kids see the full process from the start till the end. It takes two hours, which can be hard when you have six kids. And they want it to be perfect. You really have to be on their level. I was a little bit hard on myself too, but honestly, after the first class I felt ‘I can do this all the time.”
Filip continues: “I am there as a teacher, so you have to give them a bit of knowledge too. But also learned that at the end of the day, they’re there to have fun and to enjoy themselves.” Forgiven are questions like ‘Does the butter go together with the milk, or what ingredient goes first again?,‘ because Filip knows by now that the young chefs really bloom when it's time to decorate.
However, after a rotation of cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods, he sees a lot of progress from the eager students: “And then, you know, I'll ask the questions like, oh, do you remember from the previous classes what we were mixing together this and that.”
Filip is still adjusting to how quickly his community took shape. A steady rotation of about 12-20 kids have become frequent bakers. “I'm kind of still feeling a little bit confused about what I achieved in a couple of weeks. I get lots of messages from parents sharing how excited the kids are.” With his full-time business, Once Upon a Bake remains a side business with lots of potential that he’s slowly expanding.
A great way to keep the kids coming back is to ask them at the end of the class what they’d like to bake next. At the same time, by doing so, Filip can also build upon their growing skillset. “It's crazy and wonderful at the same time because you see them attending four classes, and just like that, they'll be piping without any help,” he adds proudly.
The beauty of the industry that Filip is in, is that there’s always a holiday or a celebration that's coming up. In October he hosted Halloween-themed classes, so he and the kids baked monster cakes. “I show them what I have in mind, and then they help picking the different faces for the monsters, and colors. They all put them together, and it turned out really, really good,” said Filip with a big smile on his face.
The Christmas classes are a natural extension of the business, but other holidays such as Mother’s Day are very much on his radar as well. Also the opportunity for kids to celebrate their birthday with friends where they all bake a birthday cake together.
“The parents share on Facebook: if you want your child to have two hours of creativity or enjoy the really good treats afterward, send them to Once Upon a Bake ”
Filip is the embodiment of going all-in but in a smart way. Over the last couple of classes, he tried out various locations to find his ideal spot to host the Once Upon a Bake classes. For now, he landed at a local community center that opened up their kitchen for him and the students. This allows him to keep the costs low, and it provides a welcoming environment for his students and their parents.
The kids also take their recipe cards home, which are not only a great keepsake but also allow them to repeat the recipes together with friends and family at home.
Don't be afraid to start something. Start with a good logo, good adverts, and a good booking system
Filip: “The main thing is that after the class, they go home and enjoy their little treats. Together with their parents they leave really good comments on the Facebook page. The parents are sharing things like, oh, if you want your child to have two hours of creativity or enjoy the really good treats after, send them to Once Upon a Bake - and they'll tag me.” Filip also ensures that he'll keep the quality of the end product high: “I can't let them go home with something that doesn't taste good. As a professional chef, I stand behind my quality.”
Starting from scratch
Asked for his advice for others who are trying to start a business from scratch: “Definitely stick with your idea,“ he says. “Don't be afraid to start something. It's what keeps me going all the time. I wasn't afraid, yet felt that I wasn't ready for it, but I was actually.“
Filip also stresses the importance of researching your market and doubles down on giving your all: “If you're doing something, give 110% of yourself because it will pay out. There is struggle always, but keep going tall. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you just have to believe it. Work hard and it'll pay off. Definitely.“
On a similar note, he also mentions to be mindful of expenses in the beginning: “Invest but don't go mad because you want your business rolling. It's not really needed to go all out on all the branding and all the equipment and everything. Start with a good logo, good adverts, and a good booking system. Once you're in the field, you have to adjust, adapt, and change, just like I did.”
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