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What’s Cookin’: An Interview with Kitch Academy

Melinda Hambrick, NoCo Community Kitchen Manager
Melinda@prescottfarmersmarket.org   (928) 458-4163

 

When you first meet Chef Kristina Jones, you notice her abundant sense of mirth, followed shortly thereafter by her passion for food. A graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Kristina spent her formative food years on the hot lines of restaurants throughout Tuscon before moving to Prescott in 2015.

Beyond the fact that “food is life,” it is the sensory components that make food so important to Chef Kristina. For her, some things have “a taste, a texture, a flavor or a smell that takes [her] back to special moments.” In particular, there is a certain sharp cheddar cheese that immediately brings her back to her childhood. Kristina, who has lived in the most distant corners of the United States (Florida and Alaska), also grew up in Germany. While her parents would sample wine at the local bazaars, she and her sister would be given crackers and cheese to nibble.

Kitch Academy has as unique of a background as its owner. To some degree, it began in 2015 as Pink Bird Health (an homage to the Chef’s fondness for flamingos) and with the making of energy bars. The joy returned was not equal to the work invested, and a year later, Kitch Academy was born. Initially, classes were taught at Prescott College but the business “had to be put on pause due to life in general and job changes.”

It wasn’t until Christmas of 2021 that Chef Kristina’s passion to pursue her own food business reawakened, primarily as a result of a miscarriage and the decision to “make her son proud and accomplish something.” Long an idea she had in mind, Chef Kristina briefly pivoted to providing meal kits before fully resuming teaching hands-on cooking classes in the fall of 2022 at Prescott High School.

With over 100 classes under her apron, Chef Kristina has curated her offerings to include dishes like sushi, empanadas, and French macarons as well as techniques like preparing fish three ways and making fresh pasta dough. Her goals for each class are both simple and inspiring. She wants people to enjoy something in the moment (the final product of each class is sampled immediately) and, more importantly, empower her “students” to repeat the experience at home. It isn’t just about the “new skill or bragging rights” she imparts with every class. It’s also the courage to take risks. Even though she spends a considerable amount of time around food in her primary occupation as Sous Chef at Yavapai College’s The Eatery, Chef Kristina continually finds joy in showing people that learning a new kitchen skill is nothing to be afraid of and that “if you mess up, you start over [or] here’s the way you can fix that.” The Chef is also happy to bring these lessons into clients’ homes for private one-on-one instruction or as part of celebratory activity.

With every class she teaches, Chef Kristina provides clients with a historical background of the dish and their own copy of the recipe for them to jot down notes. She expects her students to complete every step of the recipe, even the measuring and chopping. Her intention is two-fold. Creating the dish from scratch not only builds home cooks’ confidence but also encourages individuals to chat with each other and enjoy the sense of community that cooking together creates.

While she admits that teaching people to make something for themself is a potential challenge to generating revenue, she doesn’t let that stop her. Instead, she looks forward to seeing her repeat customers who say, “Oh! She has a new class…let’s go do something besides dinner and a movie.”

Chef Kristina and Kitch Academy hold the double honor of being a graduate of NoCo’s Incubator Program and the first business to operate out of the kitchen. You can see her current offerings and reserve your spot by visiting kitch-academy.com or following her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Check back next month for more of the “What’s Cookin’ Series”! We’ll will give you the inside scoop on what’s cooking at NoCo Community Kitchen, and more importantly, allow you to meet the amazing chefs and artisans behind the food. If you want to be the very first in the know, follow NoCo on Facebook and Instagram.

CONTACT US

Phone: 928-713-1227
Email:  info@prescottfarmersmarket.org

Mailing address:
PO Box 1853
Prescott, AZ 86302