Taste Buds Kitchen specializes in creative and unique cooking events for kids, families and adults. What began as a few holiday baking classes and cupcake making birthday parties under the name Cupcake Kids quickly evolved into much more. Our culinary adventures now include an ever-growing variety of classes, parties, camps and special events that combine a well-balanced mix of engaging recipes, both savory and sweet, as we take to the kitchen to sprout taste buds and a good time. We’ve grown from a team of one to over twenty culinary professionals excited to bring cooking adventures to our clients. We support kids, families and food and strive to create a lifestyle around connecting, learning and growing in the culinary playgroup of the kitchen. Be sure to visit our Kitchen Studio in Chelsea and check our out retail outpost at the Flagship FAO Schwarz.
Taste Buds Kitchen is proclaimed the “Best Kids Cooking Class” by New York Magazine and featured as the must try activity by CBS, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The New York Times, and Hampton Magazine.
Meet Our Management Team
Jessi Walter Brelsford, Founder & Chief Bud
Jessi Walter Brelsford is a dynamic professional who loves combining her passions for kids, food, business and start-ups at Taste Buds Kitchen. Formerly a Vice President at Bear Stearns and graduate of Harvard University, where she was a Division I Swimmer. As one of 23 first cousins, Jessi has a passion for kids and their development. In her previous life as a swimmer, Jessi started a company offering technique lessons for young swimmers and brought the same enthusiasm and fundamentals to the pool as she brings to the kitchen. Since weekly Gourmet Nights with her mom and sister growing up, Jessi has developed a true passion and expertise in culinary adventures and is excited to bring these experiences to the kids and families of New York City. When not at Taste Buds Kitchen, you can find her at home enjoying her husbands culinary talents or out exploring the many wonderful restaurants and hot chocolate spots that New York City has to offer. Jessi is available to be a spokesperson, TV personality, and recipe developer. Be sure to check out “The Cupcake Club” series for tweens, her first book series as a recipe developer with Carrie & Sheryl Berk.
Caitlyn Edwards, Class Director & Executive Chef
Caitlyn grew up in Dallas, Texas where everything is bigger… especially the people. Tired of a life where fast food is the norm and the word “organic” causes laughter she decided to move to New York to study Nutrition, Psychology, and Spanish at New York University. Caitlyn learned how to cook through her classes at NYU but has always had a love for baking that often goes against everything she learned in school. Caitlyn is taking time off to work, travel, and intern before pursuing her RD with a specialization in the treatment of eating disorders. When not at Taste Buds Kitchen she can be found scouting out new restaurants, taking Spanish translation classes, or planning her next trip.
Sammy Rozar, Events Director
Sammy was born in Northern New Jersey, into a large Italian family, where food and family took huge precedent in her everyday life. Her love of children and food started at a young age, both from growing accustomed to the ‘sunday dinner’ tradition of her favorite Italian dishes, and working at summer camp throughout her entire teenage life. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, where she studied event management and learned how to plan events from start to finish as well as manage her own kitchen!
Jennifer Rockwell, School Program Director
Jennifer, a Northern Jersey native, graduated from Penn State University, where she studied PR, international studies, Spanish and art history. Her true passions have always been in the kitchen, working with kids, and traveling. Jennifer aspires to see every corner of the world, and has traveled to Europe and South America where she has taken cooking classes on how to perfect local favorites. She spends her summers on the coast of Maine, where she can be spotted in her vegetable garden and paddling at dawn. She can always be found in the kitchen, cooking for friends, family and even her dogs! When not at Taste Buds Kitchen, she gets excited to try new restaurants, and entertain friends and family for dinner parties. Jennifer loves being part of the TBK crew! Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, IPS35, Solomon Schechter, and Columbia Grammar
Hannah Netter, FAO Manager and Retail Specialist
Hannah Netter has over eleven years of experience working in childcare and a lifetime in an apron under the caring tutelage of her mother, who is a professional cook. As a native New Yorker, Hannah has also fielded and nurtured her passion for food and the culinary arts from the rich culture of the city. Since joining Taste Buds in September 2011, Hannah has gotten to expand her interest in children cooking. Now Hannah is paving the way as Taste Buds Kitchen’s Manager and Retail Specialist at FAO Schwarz. Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, IPS45 & Stephen Gaynor
Meet Our Teachers
Born in Rochester New York with a BA in Theatre from Niagara University Rebecca started off as an actor and children’s acting teacher. She toured across the US and into China performing with a physical theatre troupe called Imago teaching workshops to children of all ages as she went. After she decided to settle down she found herself in NYC where she embraced the restaurant world and became the event director for fine dining restaurants, working with Celebrity Chefs Anne Burrel and Amanda Freitag. While she enjoyed her time in the New York Restaurant scene, she wanted something more fulfilling from her work. Then she found Taste Buds Kitchen, where her love of children, food and event planning all came together. She is extremely happy to be a part of the Taste Buds Kitchen team!
Courtney was born and raised on Long Island as part of a large Irish family where food and entertaining are considered some of the most important things in life. As one of the oldest of 25 first cousins, Courtney grew up surrounded by children and graduated with a degree in Developmental Psychology from Manhattan College. She started cooking at a young age, helping her Mom, Grandmother and Aunts in the kitchen. Her passion for food has only grown stronger since taking culinary classes around NYC and while studying abroad in Spain. When she is not in the kitchen, Courtney works in Marketing and Event Planning, and loves being a part of the Taste Buds team because it allows her to mix all three of her passions – children, food and entertaining! Courtney also teaches many of our adult classes and often says how they remind her of hanging out and cooking with her family and friends at home. In her spare time, Courtney loves trying out new restaurants around NYC and often attempts to recreate the menu at home whether its hors d’oeuvres and cocktails for her book club, or a full blown dinner party!
A South Texas native, Caroline Hicks studied art history at The University of Texas. After spending her college years eating her way through the entire city of Austin and loving on little ones, she decided to make the big move to New York City to pursue a career in the art world. After several stints working for high profile fashion CEO’s, art collectors and the like, her love of kids and food came back with a vengeance! Seeking an exciting start-up atmosphere, Caroline joined Taste Buds Kitchen in September of 2010 as Events Director as is now helping to run classes and parties. When she’s not at Taste Buds Kitchen, you can find her on the Upper East Side- making lattes with her new espresso machine and cooking for her ever-hungry husband! Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, Ramaz, St. David’s & Hewitt
Food has always been a passion for Khadiga, as she travels her way around the world sampling cuisines and learning techniques from many different cultures. Her appetite started in California before moving to the Middle East then settling in New York City and becoming a teacher at Taste Buds Kitchen. During the school year, she gets great happiness in teaching kids new flavors and recipes, as well as fun nutrition facts from her Nutrition masters background. In summer months, she finds herself in foreign countries learning new recipes herself, with her most recent experience cooking authentic Italian food amongst the olive trees and vineyards of Tuscany. Her favorite part of the experience is returning home and sharing all her new skills in our Taste Buds Kitchen! Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, St. Joseph Academy, Ramaz, Allen Stevenson & Lycee Francaise
Hillary made the jump to New York City after graduating from Indiana University where she studied Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. When she moved to the city she had working with children on her radar and with her combined love for cooking teaching with Taste Buds Kitchen was the perfect fit. The shared passion for kids and food goes way back. After working in schools, clinics, and as a nanny she discovered that working with children is the best job on earth, because what is better than playing, discovering, and learning all day? She spent childhood summers with her sister baking and creating new recipes and weekends in college cooking with friends. When she is not cooking with kids, she is working her way through Teachers College of Columbia University to get her Masters in Education and Psychological Counseling. Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, Bank Street & Barrow Street Nursery
Jodi grew up in Forest Hills, Queens and now lives in Brooklyn. She graduated from Muhlenberg College where she studied Education and Psychology. She then went to NYU and received a Masters in Literacy. She taught second grade for several years in both public and private schools because of her love of children and teaching. During her free time she has always enjoyed cooking and baking. Through the years Jodi enjoyed cooking with friends, as well as with her grandmother. Her friends always remind her that if she doesn’t make a mess, the food will not taste good. Whenever her family gets together the first question they ask is, “What did Jodi make today?” Now her husband cannot get enough of her homemade meals and baked goods. During her free time, she enjoys going on Food Tours in all different cities and exploring new restaurants and bakeries. After realizing her true passion is cooking and children, she came to Taste Buds where she incorporates both and teaches kids to cook. Chef: Taste Buds Kitchen, Trinity & Solomon Schechter