Apples to Zucchini Cooking School: Teaching Kitchen Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: Apples to Zucchini Cooking School in Santa Barbara, California, provides cooking classes for youth and adults using nutritious, affordable, seasonal ingredients. The organization offers camps for students in grades K-6 during the summer months and spring break that include topics such as baking, “Where does Food Come From,” creative ways to “play” with food, international cuisine, local foods, and plant-based meals. 

Weekly afterschool sessions are provided each semester during the school year. The classes cover kitchen safety, cooking techniques, the science of food, gardening, table etiquette, and clean-up responsibility.

Adult classes are offered in the evenings or on weekends. These sessions include a wine dinner series, Italian cooking, and a Food as Medicine series that focuses on inspiring adults to make healthy changes to their eating habits. 

Apples to Zucchini is also available to host parties and other celebrations for children, teens, and adults.  

How they do it: Camps and adult classes are held at the Apples to Zucchini kitchen. Afterschool classes hosted by a school are held at the school and are limited to students at the host school. Apples to Zucchini also holds classes at its teaching kitchen that are open to all children in the community. All youth classes include learning knife skills and cooking techniques, preparing a meal, eating together as a group, and washing dishes together. Schools interested in bringing Apples to Zucchini to their afterschool programs may fill out a form to inquire. 

To teach school-based classes, Apples to Zucchini staff bring a mobile teaching cart that includes the supplies and equipment needed for the lesson. 

Classes are taught by chefs and culinary educators. A local physician, Dr. Ryan Arnold of Clava Health, is also present at Food as Medicine classes to lead discussions and answer questions about the relationship between food and health. 

There is a registration fee averaging $375 per camp session, $300 per semester for afterschool programs, $75-$200 for individual adult classes, and $350 for a 4-week Food as Medicine series. Scholarships are available for both children and adults upon request. 

Mission: To bring people together over shared meals by teaching children, teens, and adults how to prepare delicious, nutritious, affordable meals made from seasonal and local ingredients.

Major Funding: Mosher Foundation, American Riviera Bank, Ardmore Institute of Health, Henry Bull Foundation, Whole Foods, George Ben Page Foundation, Grocery Outlet, Willams-Corbett Foundation

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $450,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Parents of students who have completed the afterschool sessions or summer camps have reported that their kids are more willing to try new foods and enjoy eating nutritious foods like salads and vegetables that they would not have eaten previously. These kids are also more interested in helping their parents prepare meals, and many develop a passion for cooking that will encourage healthy eating into adulthood. 


2300 Garden St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Core Programs: Teaching kitchen, cooking classes, summer camps, birthday parties

Number of staff: 12

Number of volunteers: Executive: 11 (6 Board of Directors, 5 Advisory Committee); Cooking classes: 25

Areas served: Santa Barbara, CA

Year Started: 2015

Executive Director: Nancy Martz

Contact Information: Email: | Phone: 805-452-3497 

Learn More:

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