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Little girls learn to cook like Barbie

DECKED out in pink puffy chef's hats and pink outfits, little girls are learning to cook at the Barbie Cafe. Students in "I Can Be a Chef" cooking classes get to see a commercial kitchen, as well as play with dough, make pizza topping, frost cupcakes, decorate cookies and make a fruit platter.

Aimed at 8 to 13-year-olds, the course in the cafe kitchen is designed by Barbie Cafe's executive chef Tessa Thompson, herself a former kindergarten teacher.

The New Yorker says that the course encourages a love of food, promotes very basic cooking skills and boosts self-confidence.

"The idea behind the courses and the idea behind Barbie, is yes, she is fashionable and beautiful but she has also had lots of careers over the years," Thompson says.

"She is an independent woman and the idea behind this cooking program and store wide is to encourage girls and boys to believe in their dreams and to build self esteem and have fun," says the chef.

The 90-minute weekend class is led by members of Barbie's food and beverage department with Thompson helping out.

The classes are bilingual but predominately taught in Chinese. A section of the class teaches basic English phrases.

"This is nice for parents who want their kids to be exposed to a native English speaker and to get as much practice as possible," Thompson says.

Students learn basic hygiene, like hand washing. Then comes the pizza topping, cookies and cupcakes.

Short and sweet

Each section of the class lasts 15 minutes and is designed to keep the children focused and enthusiastic.

After the goodies, the students design and make their own fruit platter.

"We want to expose the children to Western food like the pizzas, let them have some fun with Barbie and the cookies and the cupcakes and then have healthy fruit to finish," says Thompson.

Class sizes are around eight children, each getting with their own food station.

Students get a gift bag that includes a Barbie pen and cookie cutter that they used in class. They can use it again at home.

"We also encourage them to clean up as they go through each segment, which helps foster those basic cooking skills," Thompson says.

The classes are open to children younger than eight and are held every weekend from 3pm to 4:30pm. Parents are welcome and everyone can taste the food their children have prepared.

The course costs 280 yuan (US$41) but is reduced for a summer special to 180 yuan.

Barbie Cafe

Address: 550 Huaihai Rd M.

Cafe reservation hotline: 6171-6036

For more information, check


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